An independent task force overseen by Mr Paul Farmer, Chief executive of Mind recently reported that
“Mental health services have been underfunded for decades and too many people have received no help at all, leading to hundreds of thousands of lives put on hold or ruined, and thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths.”
Mr Cameron has ‘promised’ putting mental and physical health care on an equal footing and committed himself to making sure that happens. This means that if anyone is struggling with a mental health condition they will get the help and support they need. The planned reform will be funded by an extra £1 billion a year from the NHS by 2020-21. Bulk of this money is to be spent on providing therapy for patients with anxiety, depression and stress, ensuring the presence of Mental Health teams in all A&E departments and support for pregnant women and new mothers.
This sounds like a very determined effort to improve things and finally acknowledge that for decades Mental ill health has been treated as a poor relation of physical illnesses . However, there is a vast gap between aspiration and reality.
As long as the strict compartmentalisation of services continues, the care of mentally ill patients in unlikely to be comprehensive. The interface between primary and psychiatric health services needs to be completely reformed and renewed. Presently it is poor and ineffective, costing many their lives. Education of GPs is essential as they are often the first port of call. Proper engagement with the patients and their carers is imperative to achieve better results.
However, the politicisation of health care may drive away the doctors and young professionals who are required to deliver on the stated aspirations.
Not only personnel but the entire culture within our society and the NHS in particular needs to undergo a fundamental change.