The government have proposed today that 21,000 mental health staff will be recruited in the coming years. This aims to provide support to an extra 1 million patients by 2020-21. The money will mostly be spent on recruiting therapists for adults, nurses for crisis care, and there will also be a focus on child and adolescent mental health services. As Jeremy Hunt states, it is time to end the ‘historic imbalance between mental and physical health services.’
At HERE we welcome the drive towards more support and awareness surrounding those with mental health issues. With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem each year, impacting families, health services, the workplace and much more, putting greater money into services this is vitally important for the benefit of our society as a whole.
However, whilst we welcome these efforts, we also want to make two crucial points. Firstly, we hope that the public are provided with more detail about the proposed plan. How will the government be recruiting people? What are the considerations for pay, training and workplace wellbeing? We have all heard the fact that 1 in 9 (and as high as 1 in 3) nurse positions are unfilled, due to factors like the pay freeze and high staff turnover due to stressful work conditions. We want to give greater clarity for those who will potentially fill these roles so they are in a positive environment to thrive.
Secondly, at HERE we know that mental health issues are not something that can be treated in isolation. A report entitled Poverty and Mental Health came out last year by the Mental Health Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that showed poverty to be both a causal factor and a consequence of mental ill health. It is important that the government recognise that these social factors greatly increase the risk of mental health problems and must work towards decreasing poverty across the UK.