Justin Tomlinson MP Backs World Mental Health Day

Justin Tomlinson MP has re-affirmed his commitment to ensuring both mental & physical health are treated equally, and to protecting Sandalwood Court’s Place of Safety suite, as he showed his support for World Mental Health Day.

Each year, around in 1 in 4 people in the United Kingdom will suffer from some form of mental health condition. Despite this figure being so high there still remains an outdated and unacceptable stigma attached to talking about mental health in this country. Evidence shows that the attitudes of others can stop the 1 in 4 of those who experience a mental health problem from seeking the help and support they need and this needs to changes.

The NHS is now spending record amounts on mental health – almost £14 billion in 2016-17, and the Government has pledged an extra £1 billion in funding a year by 2020 to deliver targeted support. In addition to the £1 billion announced by the PM and the Chancellor earlier this year, we have already made a positive start improving mental health support by:

  • Increasing access to mental health services and making reduced waiting times a priority for NHS England.
  • Making mental health a priority for Public Health England, the national public health service.
  • Investing £450 million expanding talking therapies
  • Investing £150 million for treatment and support for children and young adults with eating disorders.
  • Providing £118 million by 2018-19 to complete the roll-out of the Children and Young People’s Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme, ensuring that there are talking therapists in every part of the country providing the best quality treatment for children.
  • Giving mental health patients a named clinician to provide more effective personalised care
  • Investing £7 million to fund 50 new inpatient beds for children and young people.

However, the Government recognises that there is more to do and is working closely with charities like Mind to improve the quality of care & support available. Paul Farmer, the Chief Executive of Mind, recently led a review of NHS England’s work on mental health and sent a detailed set of recommendations to the Health Secretary, who is now working to implement these.

In response, earlier this year the Prime Minister unveiled further plans to transform mental health support. These include:

  • New support for schools with every secondary school in the country to be offered mental health first aid training and new trials to look at how to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff. There will also be a major thematic review of children and adolescent mental health services across the country, led by the Care Quality Commission, to identify what is working and what it not and a new Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health.
  • A new partnership with employers to improve mental health support in the workplace. The Prime Minister has appointed Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer to drive work with business and the public sector to support mental health in the workplace. These experts will lead a review on how best to ensure employees with mental health problems are enabled to thrive in the workplace and perform at their best.
  • Further alternatives to hospital to support people in the community. The Government will build on its £15 million investment to provide and promote new models of community –based care such as crisis cafes and community clinics. The initial investment led to 88 new places of safety being created and the Government now plans to spend up to a further £15 million to build on this success.
  • Plans to rapidly expand treatment by investing in and expanding digital mental health services. The Government will speed up the delivery of a £67.7 million digital mental health package so that those worried about stress, anxiety or more serious issues can go online, check their symptoms and if needed, access digital therapy immediately rather than waiting weeks for a face-to-face appointment.
  • New ways to right the injustices people with mental health problems face. The Department for Health will undertake a formal review of the mental health debt form, working with Money and Mental Health. The Government will also support NHS England’s commitment to eliminate inappropriate placements to inpatient beds for children and young people by 2021.

Locally, Justin has actively worked to raise awareness of mental health support and services. He has raised money for charities including the Olive Tree Café, TWIGS & Rethink and has highlighted the successes of these organisations in Parliament.

Front and centre of Justin’s attention locally is his campaign to stop the closure of the mental health Place of Safety at Sandalwood Court. The Place of Safety, which is a specialist suite within Sandalwood Court, offers a space for those with serious mental health conditions who pose a risk to themselves or others around them and are detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. An individual who does pose such a risk can be taken to the Place of Safety by the police, where they can then receive emergency mental health support.

Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust confirmed earlier this year that it intends to close the site at Sandalwood Court and centralise the critical service at a new site in Devizes, meaning those in need of urgent health support will be taken more than 40 minutes from Swindon.

The move was announced in spite of concerns being raised by key stakeholders including mental health charities, the Swindon NHS CCG and Swindon Borough Council.

Both MPs have consistently & actively opposed the proposal on the grounds that it would harm, rather than improve, access to mental health support for vulnerable Swindon residents.

Justin has also welcomed Swindon MIND to his community office to deliver a vital Mental Health First Aid training for local residents. Swindon Mind is a volunteer-led group which works to promote a better understanding of mental health locally, as well as raising money for research & support services. On average 16 people take their lives every day in the UK and suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged between 20 and 49 – with such startling statistics, training like this is vital. The training aims to give people the tools to offer help and support to people experiencing a number of mental health conditions including depression, schizophrenia and anxiety. The course lasts two days and saw participants learn to understand mental ill health, how it effects people and how they can assist someone in crisis.

Justin Tomlinson MP said: “At any one time, 1 in 4 of the working age population has a common mental health condition, and a further 2 in 100 are affected by severe conditions like schizophrenia. We’ve made huge progress in breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma attached to mental health but there is so much more to do. This World Mental Health Day, I re-affirm my commitment to; delivering parity of esteem for mental health, challenging the language people use and protecting mental services like the Place of Safety at Sandalwood Court.”