Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mental Health and Chugging

Ed Miliband was right to criticise Jeremy Clarkson and Janet Street-Porter on Monday for demeaning people with mental health problems. As he said, we need to see attacking sufferers the same as in the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia.

The Labour leader has also proposed ensuring the NHS constitution will guarantee that mentally ill people have access to therapies in the same way as the physically ill are provided with drugs and treatment.

With the cost of mental illness to the NHS believed to be around £10bn we need reform.

As he said,

"One in four of us will have a mental illness at some point in our lifetime.

There are so many people in Britain today who could be treated but who are intimidated from seeking help. And so many people who need support but believe that no-one will care.

For far too long our leading politicians have been far too silent about mental health, part of a taboo running across our society which infects both our culture and our politics"

ACEVO very much welcomes Miliband's announcement that he has set up a taskforce – led by Stephen O'Brien, the Chairman of Barts Health NHS Trust and Vice-President of Business in the Community – to draw up a strategic plan for mental health in society.

Although the aim is that the next Labour government can begin work immediately on implementing reform, if there are good ideas then we should expect the current Government to implement them. There is a fairly good cross party consensus on mental health. Good ideas, wherever their origin, should be welcomed.

But it is good to have a leading figure highlight the need for change on mental health. It's an area where a third of all services are delivered through the third sector. Many of my members lead mental health orgs and do great work in this field

Mental health services have been hit hard by council cuts, yet demand is rising. One of the more disturbing aspects of benefit and disability changes is the way they have impacted the mentally ill. The behaviour of the ATOS company in doing reviews has been appalling when it comes to understanding mentally ill people's capacity for work.

With another 12 billion to be cut from welfare budgets how much more will this hit the mentally ill?

On the way into the office yesterday I was "accosted", in a very charming way, by a chugger; For Shelter. So I thought after my recent Blog the least I could do is to sign up for a monthly contribution. Shelter does superb work. Brilliantly led by Campbell Robb who has to balance the need to provide services which are in increasing demand with the need to be an ever stronger advocate for the homeless. Government does not always like what he says. But they should. We should all be seeking to help charities like Shelter in whatever way we can. As the winter draws in the plight of those who live on the streets is ever more pressing.

And this shows that chugging works. I've never quite understood why people object to chuggers. They are usually most charming and if you don't want to talk to them they do not persist. I suspect those that whinge about chugging are in fact tight fisted and don't like to be reminded how mean they are by demands for giving. More chugging I say!

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