Mental health strategy must go further, say charities

Mental health

Charities have responded to a consultation on the ​Scottish Government's 10-year mental health strategy

4th October 2016 by Gavin Stuart 2 Comments

Third sector organisations are in danger of being ignored under the Scottish Government’s new mental health strategy, a charity has warned.

Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS) said the 10-year strategy framework made only “minor references” to the third sector and risked overlooking its “extensive pool of resources and expertise”.

Calling for charities to be more embedded in the strategy, VHS said it was “crucial” that the work of third sector organisations was “acknowledged, harnessed, supported and developed” in all stages of the proposals.

“As it stands, the 10-year vision make only minor references to the third sector at all,” VHS said.

The mental health strategy will need to make the role of the third sector much more explicit for it to become a meaningful contributor and equal partner in the design and delivery of preventative interventions

“The mental health strategy will need to make the role of the third sector much more explicit for it to become a meaningful contributor and equal partner in the design and delivery of preventative interventions.”

VHS highlighted the fact that charities can have major impacts on the lives of people with mental health issues, even if that was not their main concern.

“For example, Fife Society for the Blind’s purpose is to support to people affected by sight loss, but the very direct result of their services means that blind people are able to sustain physical and mental wellbeing and are not socially isolated,” the charity said.

VHS also noted that many third sector organisations were able to engage with and gain the trust of vulnerable people in a way that statutory services “sometimes fail to do”.

The charity voiced its concerns in its response to a consultation on the strategy, which the Government hopes will transform mental health in Scotland.

Ministers outlined the plan’s eight major priorities in June and are now examining responses to the consultation before publishing the full strategy later this year.

Charities have broadly welcomed many of the priorities, such as better emphasis on early interventions and improved access to services.

However, in their consultation responses many warned that the proposals did not go far enough.

Support in Mind Scotland (SIMS) said the strategy’s emphasis on services rather than people meant it was “neither visionary nor ambitious”.

The charity wants to see more dialogue with people with mental health issues in a bid to build a “new vision” around which services and support can be tailored.

It also warned that the current proposals do not address the needs of Scotland’s carers, many of whom sees their own health suffer as a result of looking after someone with mental health issues.

Both SIMS and the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH) called for more ambitious targets to be set for services and support networks as part of the strategy, as well as more investment in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

Children in Scotland also called for a bigger role for teachers, school nurses and health visitors. The organisations said addressing children’s mental health requires a response that extends far beyond traditional Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Instead, there should be more focus on addressing children and young people’s social needs alongside their emotional and psychological ones.

Amy Woodhouse, head of policy at Children in Scotland, said: “Our own consultation with Children in Scotland members revealed widespread concern that initial proposals by the Scottish Government were too narrow in their focus – and that they did little at present to recognise or address many of the social factors that can affect mental health, such as poverty and discrimination.”

5th October 2016 by Sandra Marshall

There are many Third Sector organisations both social enterprise and charity that provide invaluable services to the service users and clients they provide services for. I work with one of these organisations and I have seen the social, mental health and physical health benefits that can come from third sector services and interventions. This is not a slight against any treatment or service that is out there it is just that if we allowed everyone to truly collaborate and listen to all involved putting together a real collaborative strategy that works with input from all involved then we would end up in Scotland at least with one of the highest quality mental and physical health care systems in the world. From what I have seen and been involved with it is all there already it just needs collaboration!!!!!

5th October 2016 by Catherine

Couldn't agree more Sandra. The problem I see relates very much with this article by TFN a couple of days ago http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/charities-in-cut-throat-competition-with-each-other. There are many people who can and will collaborate and then there are those who can't and won't. We're not getting them matched up in my view. So those who want to collaborate are unfortunately coming across too many who won't and vice versa. We need to identify the REAL collaborators (because there are plenty of people who talk the talk) and get conversations going with an openness, honesty, respect and a genuine desire to make a different to the people we're trying to support. Not what's in it for the orgs/leaders.