On Saturday 10 October, it was World Mental Health Day and we at National Voices are running a series of blogs from member organisations working in this area. The first in the series is from Rebecca Neale, Policy and Communications Officer at the Mental Health Providers Forum (MHPF). In this blog post, Rebecca writes about the work of the MHPF and the invaluable involvement of the voluntary and community sector in the provision of mental health care.
World Mental Health Day offers an important opportunity to remember that the effective support of people with mental health difficulties is one of the biggest challenges facing public health service provision in the UK. As a starting point to finding the solution, we need to ask ourselves what effective support look likes, and how we can ensure that a choice of high quality services providing this support is available across the country.
Within the voluntary and community sector, we know that there are services making a positive and demonstrable difference to people with mental health needs. Often these services are community based, reaching out to people who don’t easily engage with statutory mental health services. They are services which offer timely support to prevent worsening mental and physical health, and services which successfully work in partnership with all those involved in a person’s care.
Increasingly factors such as housing, employment and community are recognised for their important contribution to a person’s health and wellbeing, and the growing evidence shows that most effective support has been provided by services built with this in mind. MHPF’s focus over the past year has been to promote these areas of achievement, focusing on areas such as housing support and services for black and minority ethnic communities. The support is there to improve choice and access for people with mental health needs and we will continue to advocate for a system of comprehensive services which address the need for joined-up, whole person care that can be tailored to an individual’s needs.
The voluntary and community sector knows the importance of addressing these needs and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to ensure that appropriate, accessible services are in place to improve mental health across communities. These are services which need to be invested in and MHPF is dedicated to supporting the sustainability and growth of these services within the wider health and care sector.
The value of the voluntary and community sector in reducing the burden on service provision across health and social care must be recognised, as improvements in mental health care and support cannot be achieved without it. The challenges may be great, but the sector is an essential part of the solution and we would ask people to think about what the future of mental health care looks like if it is not taken seriously as a valued and equal planning partner. In addition, as decisions are being made about how best to improve the experience and outcomes of people with mental health difficulties, service providers need to consider what they can do to ensure the provision of consistent, high quality service delivery despite the circumstances.
Further information about MHPF can be found on their website: www.mhpf.org.uk.