Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat Minister for Care and Support at the Department of Health, is in Cornwall today to push for better care and support for those with mental health problems. He will be meeting key leaders from across the health and care sector, local councils, and the police, to speak about how organisations can work together to provide better care for those with mental health problems.
Earlier this month, Norman Lamb announced a Concordat on Crisis Mental Health Care. More than twenty national organisations signed up to the Concordat, including the Association of Chief Police Officers. The Concordat sets out the standards of care people should expect if they suffer a mental health crisis, regardless of which services they initially come into contact with. It is estimated that the police spend up to 25% of their time dealing with people with mental health problems, and the majority of those in prison have a mental health condition.
Today in Cornwall, Norman Lamb will be speaking about the improvements that are needed in our area so that those in mental health crisis get the support they need.
Commenting afterwards, Norman Lamb said:
“When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is essential that they feel able to access the help they need – and quickly. And this isn’t just an issue for the NHS. I want to make sure that, however or whenever people in need of urgent support are discovered, there is an effective and consistent response.
“At its heart, this is about ensuring parity of esteem – equality – for mental health. As a Liberal Democrat, I want to build a fairer society in which people with acute mental health problems are given the medical support they need – not locked up in police custody.”
Local Lib Dem MP Andrew George said:
“I met a homeless local man with evident mental health problems at Christmas in the constituency out of hours. He had nowhere to go and no help available (and I couldn’t offer help because we have a vulnerable person living at home). I tried all agencies and services, and the best safety net was the Police, who were brilliant. The voluntary sector were great too.
“It brought home to me just how limited the services are and how – especially at evenings and weekends – there is a need to bring local services together to improve the care and support provided to people with mental health conditions. One in four of us will suffer from some sort of mental health problem during our lifetime, and without effective help and support this can have a devastating effect on people’s lives.”
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, has made improving mental health one of his key priorities. He recently joined Norman Lamb to launch an action plan to improve mental health, setting out 25 key priorities for change, and the steps needed to achieve them.
Commenting afterwards, Nick Clegg said:
“All too often, attitudes to mental health are stuck in the dark ages; full of stigma and stereotypes. It’s time for us to bring mental health out of the shadows and to give people with mental health conditions the support they need and deserve.
“We’re calling for action – across the NHS, the mental health sector and wider society – to champion change, to transform outdated attitudes and practices and to improve the lives of people with mental health problems.
“We recognise that we’ve got a mountain to climb. But we’re working hard to ensure that the needs of those with mental health problems are considered not just in the NHS, but also across our public sector: with better support in education, employment, the justice sector, housing and elsewhere.”