Our comment on the Queen's speech

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Lucy Thorpe, Head of Policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Today’s Queen’s Speech confirms that the Government’s structural reforms to the health and social care system will be legislated for in the forthcoming Health and Care Bill.

“There is potential to develop a real focus on preventative mental health work, co-ordinated locally and serving communities’ needs. Getting public mental health right will improve people’s mental health and help to prevent people from reaching crisis point, also reducing costs to the NHS. However, we need more clarity from the Government about the action they will take to ensure that the new structures will be set up so that preventative mental health work becomes the norm.

“Given that the NHS’s focus traditionally has been on treating mental health problems rather than taking a preventative approach within communities, we cannot expect to see this change without a specific legislative commitment from the Government. This needs to give both public health and mental health seats at board level in Integrated Care Systems. This set-up would also help ensure that mental health has parity with physical health in terms of resources and priority.

“This week (10th – 16th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year is focusing on the mental health benefits of nature. Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health, and it’s not going to be possible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world.

“One of the main barriers to connecting with nature is the parlous current state of nature in the UK. Out of 218 countries in its “biodiversity intactness index”, the State of Nature 2016 report places England 189th. The lack of high-quality nature limits the wellbeing benefit that we can derive from it, especially in some of the most deprived urban areas where biodiversity loss is the most apparent.

“While the Government was clear in its ambition to build new houses, it did not make commitments on ensuring these new urban spaces are nature rich environments. Biodiversity protection and building up the natural environment in urban settings must be built into the planning reforms so that nature is available to all. It must also set ambitious legally binding targets to halt the fall in biodiversity, habitat and species loss across the country, with a particular focus on the most increasing biodiversity in the most deprived areas.

“Like others, we believe that it is urgent that social care funding is reformed. It is disappointing that the Government is not taking the opportunity to immediately legislate to create a new and financially sustainable system. When the Government does advance its plans, it must take account of the needs of people with mental health problems. Social care is not just about the important issue of older people; it is also about providing the right support in our communities for people with mental health problems, and about providing support to children and families in need. It is a vital element of the ongoing support some people need to live a full life in our communities, and of providing early support when people are struggling, to help avoid them reaching crisis.”

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech today, Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Today’s Queen’s Speech confirms that the Government’s structural reforms to the health and social care system will be legislated for in the forthcoming Health and Care Bill.

“There is potential to develop a real focus on preventative mental health work, co-ordinated locally and serving communities’ needs. Getting public mental health right will improve people’s mental health and help to prevent people from reaching crisis point, also reducing costs to the NHS. However, we need more clarity from the Government about the action they will take to ensure that the new structures will be set up so that preventative mental health work becomes the norm.

“Given that the NHS’s focus traditionally has been on treating mental health problems rather than taking a preventative approach within communities, we cannot expect to see this change without a specific legislative commitment from the Government. This needs to give both public health and mental health seats at board level in Integrated Care Systems. This set-up would also help ensure that mental health has parity with physical health in terms of resources and priority.

“This week (10th – 16th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year is focusing on the mental health benefits of nature. Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health, and it’s not going to be possible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world.

“One of the main barriers to connecting with nature is the parlous current state of nature in the UK. Out of 218 countries in its “biodiversity intactness index”, the State of Nature 2016 report places England 189th. The lack of high-quality nature limits the wellbeing benefit that we can derive from it, especially in some of the most deprived urban areas where biodiversity loss is the most apparent.

“While the Government was clear in its ambition to build new houses, it did not make commitments on ensuring these new urban spaces are nature rich environments. Biodiversity protection and building up the natural environment in urban settings must be built into the planning reforms so that nature is available to all. It must also set ambitious legally binding targets to halt the fall in biodiversity, habitat and species loss across the country, with a particular focus on the most increasing biodiversity in deprived areas.

“Like others, we believe that it is urgent that social care funding is reformed. It is disappointing that the Government is not taking the opportunity to immediately legislate to create a new and financially sustainable system. When the Government does advance its plans, it must take account of the needs of people with mental health problems. Social care is not just about the important issue of older people; it is also about providing the right support in our communities for people with mental health problems, and about providing support to children and families in need. It is a vital element of the ongoing support some people need to live a full life in our communities, and of providing early support when people are struggling, to help avoid them reaching crisis.”

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