Mental health plan will take real effort

York Press: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who launched the Government’s new action plan on mental health... but will any of these measures actually happen, asks letter writer David Smith Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who launched the Government’s new action plan on mental health... but will any of these measures actually happen, asks letter writer David Smith

YESTERDAY morning Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, launched the Government’s new action plan on mental health.

Ambitiously entitled Closing The Gap, this document sets out a series of welcome targets that if achieved will vastly improve the lives of people living with mental illness and poor mental wellbeing.

But I say “if” quite deliberately. This is not done through cynicism or malice but through experience and the weight of history that will fight against the fundamental change we need to make this shift in thinking a reality.

The Retreat has been delivering mental health services for more than 200 years and knows how difficult such fundamental change can be.

Some of Mr Clegg’s pledges will surprise many people. Most people will already assume mental health is treated like physical health and that if you need care, and in particular urgent care, it is available consistently and to a high quality. Sadly that is not the case.

For these changes to work, we need a seismic shift in the way we think about illness, allocate resources and understand mental wellbeing.

Over many years in mental health, I have seen too many people let down by the system, had their wishes ignored and been left to deteriorate without the help they need. If the same were true in cancer, heart disease or almost any other physical condition there would be an outcry.

The only way we can change this is to take the party politics out of the debate and for all providers – mental, physical, voluntary and private sector – to realign and change their model of delivery.

I look forward to seeing how local authorities and clinical commissioning groups respond to yesterday’s news.

David Smith, Director of development, The Retreat, Heslington Road, York.

Comments (4)

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12:33pm Tue 21 Jan 14

rothko says...

Excellent letter. The Clegg speech made a lot of the right noises, but only time will tell if this makes a difference on the ground. With waiting lists of over a year for some therapy services and in-patients being transferred hundreds of miles for a bed there is much to do in our region to improve mental health services.
Excellent letter. The Clegg speech made a lot of the right noises, but only time will tell if this makes a difference on the ground. With waiting lists of over a year for some therapy services and in-patients being transferred hundreds of miles for a bed there is much to do in our region to improve mental health services. rothko
  • Score: 6

1:08pm Tue 21 Jan 14

George Appleby says...

The Retreat was a Quaker hospital with top celebrities having treatment. My brother John was employed there as a joiner on the maintenance staff and went with groups of patients to classical concerts at the old Rialto just after the war. He developed a lasting love of classical music and built up quite a lot of the old 75s which we laid in bed on Sunday mornings listening to. Sylva and I went for garden parties and occasional dances.
The Clifton site on Shipton Road was devoted to mental health and Bootham was the same. A brother of mine, over from New Zealand a few years ago, stopped taking his treatment and needed serious treatment. He had it at the main hospital in Harrogate. Is there no NHS treatment of this type available in York? My wife is currently having radiotherapy cancer treatment 4 days a week at St James in Leeds. We go by road through Wetherby on the country roads. It's all still there. You just have to travel for much of it.
The Retreat was a Quaker hospital with top celebrities having treatment. My brother John was employed there as a joiner on the maintenance staff and went with groups of patients to classical concerts at the old Rialto just after the war. He developed a lasting love of classical music and built up quite a lot of the old 75s which we laid in bed on Sunday mornings listening to. Sylva and I went for garden parties and occasional dances. The Clifton site on Shipton Road was devoted to mental health and Bootham was the same. A brother of mine, over from New Zealand a few years ago, stopped taking his treatment and needed serious treatment. He had it at the main hospital in Harrogate. Is there no NHS treatment of this type available in York? My wife is currently having radiotherapy cancer treatment 4 days a week at St James in Leeds. We go by road through Wetherby on the country roads. It's all still there. You just have to travel for much of it. George Appleby
  • Score: 2

1:26pm Tue 21 Jan 14

David Smith - The Retreat says...

Hi George

Its great to hear stories about The Retreat in years gone by. These days we provide specialist care, for regular folks, paid for by the NHS but even so, still keep up the music and art therapy you mentioned. Sadly the garden parties and dances are in now long since past.

http://www.theretrea
tyork.org.uk/service
s.html

There is a serious issue at the moment about people having to travel out of the area to get the treatment they need. This is a national problem and one that needs to be sorted. Travelling to Leeds and Harrogate can be difficult enough but we hear stories about people being placed hundreds of miles away, sometimes for a considerable length of time, and losing all of those family and social connections that are critical to good mental wellbeing.

Fortunately, this is specifically addressed in the new strategy. What we need now though is for the local commissioners who are responsible for purchasing those services to look at where the gaps are and what can be done to fill them.

As I mentioned in the letter, The Retreat has been delivering services for over 200 years now. I'm sure that between us we can come up with a solution that will ease some of this problems and make recovering from mental ill-health easier not only for those directly affected but their family, carers and friends.

David
Hi George Its great to hear stories about The Retreat in years gone by. These days we provide specialist care, for regular folks, paid for by the NHS but even so, still keep up the music and art therapy you mentioned. Sadly the garden parties and dances are in now long since past. http://www.theretrea tyork.org.uk/service s.html There is a serious issue at the moment about people having to travel out of the area to get the treatment they need. This is a national problem and one that needs to be sorted. Travelling to Leeds and Harrogate can be difficult enough but we hear stories about people being placed hundreds of miles away, sometimes for a considerable length of time, and losing all of those family and social connections that are critical to good mental wellbeing. Fortunately, this is specifically addressed in the new strategy. What we need now though is for the local commissioners who are responsible for purchasing those services to look at where the gaps are and what can be done to fill them. As I mentioned in the letter, The Retreat has been delivering services for over 200 years now. I'm sure that between us we can come up with a solution that will ease some of this problems and make recovering from mental ill-health easier not only for those directly affected but their family, carers and friends. David David Smith - The Retreat
  • Score: 4

7:51pm Wed 22 Jan 14

CaroleBaines says...

One should also be looking at why mental health issues are so commonplace today. A 24/7 society where even as children there are targets and more targets. It is not just about throwing money at mental health services, its about looking at our way of life.
One should also be looking at why mental health issues are so commonplace today. A 24/7 society where even as children there are targets and more targets. It is not just about throwing money at mental health services, its about looking at our way of life. CaroleBaines
  • Score: 1

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