Mental health still needs more improvements

A new report has revealed that there are many changes that still need to be made to mental health services to improve care.

The new report has said that political parties need to act together to improve mental health services across the country.

Published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the document said that, although the government had a "laudable ambition" to improve this area of healthcare, it was "sceptical" about whether it was possible to carry out the suggested changes without "compromising other services".

With a quarter of all adults in the UK being diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives, these type of services can put a considerable pressure on the NHS. This is especially apparent when it's estimated that just one in four people who need mental health care actually have access to it.

The report said that pressure on the already struggling NHS budget would make it difficult to achieve "parity of esteem" between mental and physical health. Further to this, it said the task was a job for the "whole of government".

It stated that the challenge was to "build joined-up, well-configured services" in the health system that give people across the country access to the care they need, near to where they live.

Speaking about the report's findings, Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, highlighted the importance of addressing these problems.

He said: “Mental health problems do not exist in isolation and as such are not the sole responsibility of the NHS. Mental health impacts on every aspect of your life from work and relationships to education and finances."

In its report, the Committee said there is a lack of consistency, which is causing many systems for working across government to be weak. It cited situations such as people leaving prison, counselling in schools and the disconnect between the NHS and Department for Work and Pensions when people look to return to work, as key issues.

The way mental health services are designed and configured is "complex, variable and difficult to navigate", with significant variation in people's access to services, it stated.

Mr Farmer said: “For too long mental health has not been given the priority that it deserves and has not been placed on an equal footing with physical health. It is the job of all the departments, right across government, to change this and to lay the foundations and funding for a more integrated approach to take place."

The Committee said that achieving parity of esteem would depend on having the right professionals in the health system, making sure the skills are in the places where they're needed.

Mr Farmer said there is still a long way to go before any big changes will be felt by people actually experiencing mental health problems.