Baroness Redfern – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Baroness Redfern on 2015-11-10.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support local authorities in training staff to identify and support those with mental health problems, and to link services in local areas to support mental health strategies.

Lord Prior of Brampton

It is important that local authorities employ individuals who possess the necessary skills to engage effectively with those with mental health problems. Local authorities should make training opportunities available to all staff.

Mental health social workers empower individuals with mental illness and their families, carers, and communities to lead fulfilling, independent lives. On 1 September this year applications for a new fast track route into mental health social work careers opened for an intensive on-the-job programme called Think Ahead. The programme aims to attract promising students and graduates into mental health careers.

Health Education England, working with NHS England, aims to ensure that there are suf­ficient therapists and other staff with the right skills to support the identification of mental health issues.

Community mental health services, which include community mental health teams, crisis and home resolution teams, assertive outreach teams and early intervention in psychosis teams, all have a key role in supporting people with mental health problems either to avoid the need for in-patient care or to provide them with on-going support once in-patient treatment is no longer necessary.

From April 2016, the first set of mental health waiting time standards will be introduced which requires that 50% of people experiencing a first episode of psychosis are treated with a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence approved package of care within two weeks of referral; 75% of adults referred to the national programme for psychological therapies will be treated within 6 weeks, and 95% within 18 weeks.

This is supported by an £80 million funding package for 2015-16 from NHS England’s budgets, breaking down as:

‒ £40 million recurrent funding to support delivery of the early intervention in psychosis (EIP) standard;

‒ £10 million to support delivery of the new psychological therapies standards; and

‒ £30 million to support liaison psychiatry in acute hospitals.

The Time to Change initiative is an ambitious national programme being delivered by leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to reduce stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems. The Department, the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief have all provided funding for the programme.The Department funded the campaign with over £16 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15 and is continuing to fund the programme with £2.5 million in 2015-16. Time to Change continues to work with people with experience of mental health problems to challenge attitudes and discrimination; run social marketing campaigns and work with local and regional partners on community-led activity. To date, more than 350 organisations across England have committed to tackling mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace.