Government’s Mental Health plans are a missed opportunity says Inclusivity chair

Attempts by the government to tackle the problem of positive mental health are a ‘missed opportunity’, the chair of the Made in Group’s Inclusivity Advisory Board has said.

In his latest Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government was committed to achieving parity of esteem between mental health and physical health services, ensuring that high quality mental health support was available for all those who needed it.

He said funding for mental health services would grow as a share of the overall NHS budget over the next five years, adding the new services would take pressure off Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and other public services such as the police, probation and social services.

Mr Hammond said the aim was to ensure that people with mental illness could return to, and stay in, work.

He said the NHS would invest up to £250m a year by 2023-24 into new crisis services, including:

  • 24/7 support via NHS 111;
  • children and young people’s crisis teams in every part of the country;
  • comprehensive mental health support in every major A&E by 2023-24;
  • more mental health specialist ambulances;
  • and more community services such as crisis cafes.

The NHS will prioritise services for children and young people, with schools-based mental health support teams and specialist crisis teams for young people across the country. For adults, the NHS will expand access to the Individual Placement Support programme to help those with severe mental illness find and retain employment – a move which the government said would benefit 55,000 people by 2023-24.

However, Baroness Burt of Solihull, who served with Mr Hammond in the coalition government said the measures did not go far enough.

“When we (Liberal Democrats) were in the coalition government we were of the belief that good mental health had parity with good physical health,” she said.

“However, the funding announced by the Chancellor to help mental health is a mere drop in the ocean compared to what’s actually needed.

“I would like to have seen greater support for mental health in the workplace. People need to think that they can bring their whole self to work. By not tackling the issue in the workplace just increases stress for the person concerned and reduces their company’s inclusivity.

“I’m afraid what the Chancellor has outlined doesn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to the wellbeing of the person for whom these companies rely on for their productivity.

“It’s a missed opportunity.”