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500m plan to expand mental health services

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said its mental health recovery action plan will support hundreds of thousands of people with mental health issues.

Health bosses said the plan, which breaks down how the £500m announced at the Spending Review will be allocated, aims to respond to the impact of the pandemic on the mental health on the public.

It will specifically target groups that have been most impacted including those with severe mental illness, young people, and frontline staff.

Under the plan NHS talking therapies (IAPT services) which offer confidential treatment of conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD will expand, supporting 1.6m people to access services in 2021/22, backed by an additional £38m.

Additional therapists will also be trained to support those with more complex mental health needs as a result of the pandemic.

People living with severe mental illness will also benefit from enhanced mental services in the community, backed by £58 million for better, joined-up support between primary and secondary care, including specialist mental health staff embedded in primary care.

DHSC said the funding will accelerate the expansion and transformation of community mental health services, enabling people with severe mental illnesses to access psychological therapies, improved physical health care, employment support, personalised and trauma-informed care, medicines management and support for self-harm.

One-off initiatives will receive funding to tackle the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and learning disability and autism services and to support groups who have disproportionately been affected by the pandemic.

Mental health charity, Mind, welcomed the news but is calling on the government to go further by protecting those who are being pushed into poverty.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: ‘It’s no understatement to say we are facing a ‘mental health pandemic’ as a nation.

‘As we continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic and the economic recession, the true scale of the nation’s mental health is only beginning to emerge.

‘It could be many months or even years before we fully recognise the pandemic’s toll on our collective wellbeing.

‘That’s why we welcome the UK government’s recovery plan, which will need to see departments working more closely than ever to deliver on its promises given the multiple social challenges we face.

‘After all, we know factors like loneliness, unemployment, debt, education, and poor housing are taking a huge toll on people’s mental health.

‘At the moment, we’re seeing a widening of existing inequalities particularly for those in insecure employment and people from racialised communities, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

‘Nobody should be pushed into poverty at this time, especially those whose mental health prevents them earning enough to support themselves financially.

‘That’s why we need to see the UK government urgently go further in some areas including maintaining a £20 uplift to Universal Credit indefinitely and extending this uplift to those needing support from older disability benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).’

DHSC said the funding will also be used to help level up mental health and wellbeing across the country in the most deprived local authority areas in England, supporting prevention activities like debt advice, carers support, outreach to people facing loneliness and isolation, youth projects and community groups.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Our Recovery Action Plan, backed by £500 million of funding will accelerate the expansion of mental health services and provide people with the support they need.

‘As part of our response to this global pandemic we not only want to tackle the public health threat of coronavirus but ensure our clinicians have the resources to deal with the impact on people’s mental health.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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