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Bishop Mike Hill urges action on mental health

24 January 2014


Action plan: the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, at the Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institution in Rochester, last week 

Action plan: the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, at the Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institution in Rochester, last week 

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Launching the action plan, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said that attitudes to mental health were "outdated; stuck in the Dark Ages; full of stigma and stereotypes".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 mental-health contexts.

"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."

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