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No Health without Mental Health

Note: The following blogpost is from a guest blogger, Ruth Hannan, Policy and Development Manager (Mental Health) at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

Many carers waited on the government’s new mental health strategy “No Health without Mental Health” with baited Mental Health Strategybreath to see how significantly carers’ needs would be included. So it was with a little cheer (I was on a train at the time) that I saw that the Triangle of Care had been placed at the centre of the government’s commitment to supporting carers of people with mental ill health.

The Triangle of Care, as a joint publication with the National Mental Health Development Unit, and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers establishes best practice guidelines for engaging with and supporting carers in an acute care setting, however, there is no reason why these principles can’t be rolled out across mental health service provision field whether it is statutory, third sector or private. David Behan (Director General for Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships) in a webchat we recently hosted emphasised the importance of the Triangle of care in securing on-going improvements to local services.

The new mental health strategy reflects the government’s wider radical changes to NHS service provision, clearly including the community focused “Big Society” ideas and more importantly the move to GP Consortia commissioning.  Payment by Results, GP Consortia commissioning and the personalisation agenda present some of the most radical changes in mental health service provision for a number of years and it is as yet unclear how well these will work for people with mental health problems or their carers.

Focus on the Triangle of Care, whole family working and those with more complex needs are clear positives for carers. However, the significant economic cuts currently being implemented may prove counter-productive to these principles. In addition, carers’ issues are not central to the strategy. The main reference to carers is primarily linking to the refreshed carers strategy, rather than considering the particular needs of carers of people with mental health problems or any new or innovative ways forward.

Many Carers’ Centres are already working on developing Triangle of Care services either individually or in partnership with their local mental health trusts. Government’s support for The Triangle of Care will add weight to existing work and support centres who have been trying to engage with local providers. We will seek continued Government support to embed the Triangle of Care in mental health.

The emphasis on reduced government support and increased local responsibility and funding is a concern for many Carers’ Centres, as cuts to statutory services are already affecting service provision. Further cuts may mean already oversubscribed services will need additional support to manage the more complex needs of mental health carers.

There is a concern that GP commissioning may overlook those with the most complex which could affect services available to those caring for someone with the most acute need. We will work to make sure that carers’ needs are included in all mental health decision making at local, regional and national levels.

Further Information:

David Behan joined Carers.org for a Mental Health Strategy webchat – find the chat transcript here

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April 13, 2011 Posted by | Carers Strategy, Health, Mental Health, Social Care | , , , , | 4 Comments