Tackle mental health problems to avoid wasting billions

We can't wait until crisis point, says CPFT director Deborah Cohen

Tackle mental health problems to avoid wasting billions
03 February 2015

Let's tackle mental health problems to avoid wasting billions, writes Deborah Cohen, Director of Service Integration at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

Last week, my colleague Aidan Thomas – Chief Executive of CPFT – wrote, quite rightly, about how the pressures currently facing the NHS aren’t just being faced by accident and emergency departments.

As he outlined, the answers are not simple. But there are solutions out there.

When it comes to mental health, one of the core elements of CPFT, the impact of a rise in people needing the help of our services isn’t just restricted to the NHS, it also impacts on employers, schools and wider communities.

In other words, good mental health is everyone’s responsibility, not just the National Health Service.

I was recently asked to join the independent Taskforce on Mental Health in Society which was set up by Labour leader Ed Miliband following a speech he made to the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2012.

But please don’t think the report, which was published last week, has any kind of political agenda. I’m proud of the panel’s independence, the recommendations we have made, and how hopefully it will make politicians and policy makers of all sides sit up and listen.

They have to. There is no choice if we are to create a mentally healthy society. And if that’s not enough of an incentive, let’s think of the money.

If we ignore the problems for much longer, and don’t started tacking problems earlier, we’ll be wasting billions – and only dealing with issues when they reach crisis point.

Here are three key recommendations from the report:

• We should not accept a society where people live and work in environments that harm their mental health, but should choose to shape our society in a way that promotes mental health and helps prevent mental health problems

• We should not accept the human and economic costs of failing to intervene to stop problems occurring or becoming worse than they need, but should act early – and have to justify not doing so

• We should not accept a society where people are stigmatised, left out or written off because of their mental health, but should act to ensure that those living with mental health problems have better opportunities and better quality of life than they do now

But that’s only three of the points we raised. We haven’t even begun to talk about support for new mothers, for young people in schools, those making the transition to adulthood, those off or out of work, those with long term conditions, and older people.

We have come a long way in our attitudes and understanding towards mental health. But further change, real change, in how we treat those who need support is essential. It will take the NHS supported by all public services, businesses, charities, communities, and ultimately you and me for society to take the next step.

This column first appeared in the Cambridge News on Monday, 26 January, 2015.

Ends

For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Communications Manager
E andy.burrows@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 726767

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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