Message from Frances Hasler – Healthwatch Camden, Director

After what seemed like one of the longest election campaigns ever, we have a new Government, and we’re waiting to see what this means for health and social care.

One of the welcome initiatives from the previous Government that we hope will continue was around mental health. The intention is to make mental health as important as physical health. (Former minister, Norman Lamb, in particular, was very active in pushing for more resources for mental health. We hope that new minister Alistair Burt will continue this policy.)  

At Healthwatch Camden we know that mental health is a big issue for local people. So we are pleased that NHS England has set up a task force to “create a mental health Five Year Forward View for the NHS”. The task force is chaired by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity, Mind.

In an interview with HSJ, the health services magazine, Mr Farmer said: “Over the last four or five years we have seen quite a few national strategies for mental health, but what has been missing is a really clear route map which takes us from those ambitions into delivering real change for people with mental health problems on the ground.”

Paul has written a blog on the task force. In it he says, “We know the huge impact that poor mental health can have on people, families, workplaces, and on wider society.”

This certainly echoes our experience – when we talk to people in Camden they tell us that mental health issues are a problem not just for individuals but for families and neighbourhoods. They want good quality support when people are unwell, but they also want neighbourhood services that help to prevent ill health.

At Healthwatch Camden we are talking about mental health – with people who use services, with carers, with providers and with advocates. We are planning some visits to inpatient services and we are following up Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust’s action plans to improve their services.

We are working as part of the Health and Wellbeing Board to make sure that local plans promote mental wellbeing.  Like the NHS taskforce, we are keen to know your views about the ways to improve mental health services and mental wellbeing in Camden.