AGAINST a backdrop of underfunding, and a failure to reflect on
the causes of mental ill-health, including economic inequality, the
Government must do more than "simply parade aspirations" about
mental-health services, the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Michael
Hill, said this week.
On Monday, the Government published a list of 25 priorities for
improvements in mental health, expected to be achieved in the next
two years. These include establishing new national standards on
access and waiting times, and improving access to psychological
therapies for children and young people.
Launching the action plan, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick
Clegg, said that attitudes to mental health were "outdated; stuck
in the Dark Ages; full of stigma and stereotypes".
On Tuesday, Bishop Hill said: "The Government is clearly right
to shine a light on the need for good mental health. . . However,
to simply parade aspirations about what they would like to see, on
its own, is not enough.
"It has been widely accepted that mental-health provision has
been sadly underfunded over a long period of time. There are people
in prisons and in general hospitals and out there in the community,
who really ought to be receiving treatment in specialist
"On the wider front, there is little measured reflection on the
kind of society that creates large numbers of people who suffer
with mental-health issues. What about some of these bigger
contextual issues? Family breakdown, abuse, and social and economic
equality to name just three. Dealing with the symptoms is
important; reflecting on causes is vital."
On Wednesday, the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway,
said that he had read Mr Clegg's speech with "approval and
gratitude"; but "there still remain quite profound issues in
relation to welfare and housing. . . There is scant attention to
the situation in which many mentally ill people find themselves, in
terms of support, when they are so isolated or possibly facing a
good deal of chaos."