The government has announced the launch of a new strategy for people with mental health problems in England.
Phil Hope, the care services minister, said the New Horizons strategy would aim to improve services, but there would be a particular focus on maintaining good mental health and tackling stigma.
The strategy will “build on” the ten-year national service framework for mental health, which ends this year.
Hope and Louis Appleby, national director for mental health, will host a series of eight events across England in April, May and June, to seek views on what should be in the new strategy. A formal consultation will follow, with the strategy expected later this year.
Hope said: “Over the past 10 years we’ve made great strides in transforming the way mental health is dealt with. But we need to do more. I’m particularly interested in looking at how we can help people to look after their mental health and prevent them from becoming ill. And I’m keen to tackle the stigma that’s associated with it – this isn’t something we can shy away from. Mental ill health is as serious as physical illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
“My ambition is to create a strategy that will improve services and promote public mental health and wellbeing for years to come.”
A spokeswoman for the mental health charity Mind said: “We are particularly pleased that the strategy will have a focus on public mental health and improving the mental wellbeing of the whole population. We have seen through similar campaigns that tackle obesity or smoking that prevention is key to changing people’s health for the better.”
But she added: “The government’s new strategy must take into account the diverse needs of people who experience disproportionately high levels of mental distress.
“It’s also important to recognise that these new plans cannot work in isolation. It has implications for education, employment and welfare too. We need to make sure that there is a cross-government strategy on mental health, actively coordinated across departments and with a champion at cabinet level.”
She said Mind would work with the Future Visions coalition to influence the New Horizons strategy. Other members of the coalition are: the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services; the Mental Health Foundation; Rethink; the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health; Together; and the NHS Confederation’s mental health network.
To contribute to the New Horizons consultation, email [email protected]