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Should more funding be made available for research and treatment of mental health issues?

September 26, 2018 7:00 AM
By Cllr Vicky Davies in Brentwood Gazette
Cllr Vicky Davies

Cllr Vicky Davies

Better investment in mental health care is essential to support our community from cradle to grave but, more importantly, investment must go to acting on findings to make positive changes.

Mental ill health remains the poor relation of physical illness because the symptoms are often swept under the carpet with patients not receiving suitable care. Worryingly, one in four people will become mentally unwell at some point in their lives with increasing numbers of young people affected.

Latest research by the Kings Fund shows a failing system that is under pressure and in crisis. Ongoing funding cuts are leading to widespread evidence of poor quality care with only 14% of patients saying that they have received appropriate treatment. In recent years, due to budget cuts, there has been a poor level of support in community mental health care. Successive government ministers, with the notable exception of Lib Dem MP and mental health champion Norman Lamb as junior health minister from 2010-2015, have merely paid lip service to the needs of mental ill health.

The system has become over reliant on self-funding charities that provide a safety net for those falling outside of the system where they can.

'Brentwood Community Print CIC', is an example of good practice supporting those recovering from mental ill health back into work but they cope on a shoestring budget. They link with other voluntary organisations to form a 'community tree' of organisations - again, mostly voluntary, that offer help and support. Sport England's research shows exercise can be a "wonder drug" increasing mental wellbeing and the Brentwood Centre's 'Fitness in Mind' has contributed greatly in this area.

However, we only have to visit Brentwood High Street to see how the care system is failing with drunken and distressed rough sleepers that slip through the net of care and treatment.