By Elliot Adams
Mental Health is vital to our well-being and the well-being of Britain as a whole, with common mental health problems contributing to both social problems and serious physical illnesses. Every part of a person’s environment can affect their mental health, and so, with the continued recession adding pressure to people’s daily lives, it is small surprise that the department of health has carried out a consultation with the aim of reforming their approach to mental health by the end of this year.
The published results of the New Horizons in Mental Health consultation have elicited varied responses, but recurrent among these is the concern that the Department of Health will struggle to deal with Mental Health alone. The Mental Health Foundation, in a formal response to the consultation, has asked the Department of Health to seek the assistance of other governmental departments, saying that “progress in mental health could be hindered if not also made a priority by other Government Departments, such as the Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Children, Schools and Families.”
Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Dr Andrew McCulloch, identified a financial impetus behind potential interdepartmental cohesion on mental health issues, saying that “failure to do so will result in the criminal justice system and health service pulling on the Government’s purse strings because that is where the economic costs occur when mental illness is ignored.”
Local Edinburgh Psychiatrist, Dr A. T. Adams agreed with these concerns but stressed the importance of “avoiding the bureaucratic confusion that often accompanies government agencies working together. Mental Health services have suffered under SNP bureaucracy, similar failures nation-wide would be very harmful.”
It is clear Mental illness cannot be dealt with in isolation from the areas of society that it interacts with. These responses from the medical community suggest that therefore any new approach needs a cross-department commitment to effectively working on mental health together.