Caroline Flint

Standing up for Don Valley.

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Former Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, has signed a letter to the Government, published in the Times newspaper, to make a plea for equality in mental health.  Ms Flint is one of 15 former  health Ministers and health campaigners to sign the letter, in support of the campaign Equality 4 Mental Health.

The letter highlights the crisis faced by those with mental I'll health: "Suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 45, people in crisis are still routinely shunted across the country in a search of a hospital bed, children with eating disorders are too often turned away from services, and there is a growing mental health crisis among young women."

Said Caroline: “I am pleased to add my voice to a long list of formers ministers, parliamentarians and health campaigners to hold the Government to its word.  There are too many people facing crises, and the lack of treatment costs money and costs lives.  I hope the Chancellor has some better news in his Autumn Statement, so local mental health services can meets the needs of the many people the system is still failing.”

The campaign highlights:

1. Despite the promised increases in funding, mental health trusts in England are still suffering cuts to their budgets. Two in every five trusts saw their budgets cut in 2015-16, according to the health think tank, the King’s Fund.

2. Suicide remains the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK and the rate has been increasing in recent years. The male suicide rate was three times higher than the female rate in 2014.

3. People experiencing a mental health crisis are still routinely shunted across the country in search of a hospital bed.  Last year, nearly 5,500 mental health patients in England had to travel out of area to receive treatment – an increase of 13% from the previous year.

4. Services for children and young people are going backwards in many areas. Up to 75% get no support or treatment at all for mental health conditions. Children and young people's mental health services receive just 0.7% of the total NHS budget. In the first year of promised additional investment, only £143m was allocated instead of the £250m expected.

5. Children and young people with eating disorders and mental illness are still too often turned away unless they reach high thresholds for treatment, such as a low BMI and repeated suicidal thoughts.

 6. There is evidence of a growing mental health crisis among young women.  More than a quarter (28%) of women aged 16-24 have a mental health disorder, according to a major report by NHS Digital, while reports of self-harm trebled in this group to 19.7% between 2007 and 2014. There needs to be greater understanding of the reasons for this trend, though childhood trauma, sexual abuse, low self-esteem and social media pressures have been cited as possible contributing factors.

7. People experiencing a first episode of psychosis are being denied the timely package of specialist treatment they should be entitled to under flagship new treatment standards in the NHS.  Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) is being restricted to patients under the age of 35 across a quarter of the country, while most CCGs are unable to say how much they had spent on the service or whether their care package is delivered in line with official requirements.

8. There are inequalities in access to treatment for mental health disorders related to socio-economic class and ethnic background.  White British adults are more than twice as likely to receive treatment as black adults for common mental disorders, while people living in lower income households are more likely to have requested but not received a particular mental health treatment.

9. Significant concerns that the potential value of Sustainability and Transformation Plans to bring all parts of the health and care system together will be undermined if mental health is peripheral to plans under development across the country.
10. Research into mental ill health continues to lose out with just 5.5% of research funding going to mental health compared to a share of the total disease burden of about 23%.

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