Mental Health news
It’s been great to see mental health near the top of the news agenda this week. Following on from the publicity we received for the launch of our zero suicide policy, it was good to see Luciana Berger MP – the local MP for Liverpool Wavertree – appointed as the first Shadow Minister for Mental Health in history.
Those of you who have worked in mental health for some time will know we have long battled for recognition and parity of esteem with physical health. To now have someone whose job is to further the cause of mental health on the floor of the House of Commons is evidence of a real change of emphasis in this country – it is only three years ago that MPs voted in favour of a private members bill to end the discrimination which prevented those affected by mental illness from serving in public life.
As a local MP, Mersey Care already has a good relationship with the Shadow Minister and we were delighted she chose her first official outing in the post to visit us at Clock View hospital yesterday. It’s the first time she has visited our flagship hospital since it became fully operational and she was able to speak to patients and staff about how the improved environment has helped with our care.
We also had a good discussion about mental health, which I was delighted formed one of the topics brought up by Jeremy Corbyn in his first appearance as the new Labour leader at Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday. I don’t want to turn this blog into a party political discussion, but I was interested in one part of the exchange between the Labour leader and the Prime Minister in reference to what we are doing here at Mersey Care.
Asked about the services provided for mental health in this country, the Prime Minister finished his answer by underlining the Government would not be able to improve services and “afford a strong NHS without a strong economy.” That quote resonated with me and what we do here at Mersey Care.
One of our mantras here is ‘There’s No Health without Mental Health’, but I think we should also consider ‘There’s No Wealth without Mental Health.’ To improve the economy we need better housing, education and employment for all, which is exactly what we are trying to provide through our Individual Placement and Support Employment services Network Employment and Imagine Sefton, the Employment and Enterprise Hub and the Recovery College.
Between January and August this year, 44 jobs have been found for service users in Liverpool and Sefton and we have also made 399 company contacts. Since the Employment Enterprise Hub started this month, we have had 11 referrals and one service users is now self-employed while there have been four job starts since the Recovery College Employment Adviser started in June.
This is proof that having a mental health issues does not exclude you from making a real contribution to the economy. Having a sense of belonging, structure and value gives confidence to service users and supports them on their individual roads to recovery. Any country is only as strong as its workforce and by helping people out of care services and being back part of the economy is the only way we are going to retain our position as a global power.
It’s a stigmatised view that people with mental health issues are unable to perform a useful role in society. It’s a lie, one we highlighted to the Shadow Minister yesterday and I hope the Government’s Mental Health Task Force will have some interesting views on this.
I had an interesting discussion with the Liverpool coroner André Rebello this week alongside David Fearnley, Mersey Care’s Medical Director, and Jane Kennedy, the Police and Crime Commissioner. The main thrust of our meeting was the definitions of suicide in line with our policy to reach zero suicide within our care.
It was interesting to discuss the topic of benchmarking ourselves against other Trusts or organisations. What we took away from that is we have to make sure other Trusts are right in what they are doing if we are aiming to emulate them. Instead, surely it’s better to be leaders in the field, to strive to be the best and not restrict ourselves by just comparing ourselves to similar Trusts. This is something we have obviously enshrined in our aspirations for Perfect Care.
I wrote about the Big Brew Talk Walk last week, which is taking place at Aintree Racecourse around the Grand National course on 4 October at 1.00pm. It is an event organised to make a collective stand against the stigma surrounding mental health that often stops those with suicidal thoughts asking for help.
It is a free event, gates open at 12.00 for the 5km walk, and you can register for it