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BPS News

BPS response to Theresa May's speech on mental health

09 January 2017

Professor Peter Kinderman, the President of the British Psychological Society, has welcomed Theresa May’s pledge to introduce new measures to improve mental health care.

Professor Kinderman says:

“The focus on schools and the workplace is much needed, as is the attention to addressing stigma and the transformation of attitudes to mental health conditions. However, we are extremely disappointed that no detail was provided as to how the Government intends to deliver on this commitment. The long-term consequences of stigma are complex and far reaching and require a clearly defined multi-agency strategy. There is no quick fix.

We are pleased by the commitment to achieving parity of esteem, but this needs to be followed with robust policies, regulation and target setting to ensure that mental health is on a level playing field with physical health. At present, government policies are not ensuring that standards of care are met by NHS Trusts and this requires urgent attention. The explicit recognition of this by the prime minister is important, although it remains unclear as to how NHS Trusts will be held to account.

The Society supports the review of improving support in the workplace, but this will need to be followed with concrete action to ensure the greater integration of occupational health and psychological services and bring about tailored, individualised support to enable people with mental health conditions to stay in work or return to work.

The focus on providing mental health first aid training in schools may support the increased identification of early signs and symptoms of mental health conditions. Providing mental health support in schools should not rely just on increased responsibilities for teachers. Investment in resources to provide increased access to expert psychological assessments and interventions are also required.

Educational psychologists are best placed to assist the government in delivering its aspirations in this regard. But over recent years, many educational psychology services have been significantly eroded to the detriment of effective support for children and young people, their parents and families and others responsible for their wellbeing. The forthcoming green paper provides an opportunity for the government to address this.

Through groups such as the Mental Health Taskforce, professional bodies have come together to offer all political parties clear mental health strategy. Now they need to implement it. 

Additional resources and expert health and social care professionals are needed to ensure that all individual needs can be met and that the provision of appropriate support allows for choice of type of intervention, method of delivery and at a time that best suits the individual.” 

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