How you can get involved in the 10 Year Mental Health Plan
Head of Policy and Influencing, Jeremy Bernhaut, outlines what the government is calling for as it develops a new 10 year plan in a bid to improve the nation’s mental health.
The government has launched a public ‘call for evidence’ to support the development of a new 10 year Mental Health Plan. This idea to coordinate activity across all government departments to improve mental health is a great one, and one which charities like Rethink Mental Illness and many of our partners have been calling for, for some time. It is easy to be cynical about yet another government plan, but there is both hope that this plan could deliver something meaningful – as well as a risk it might not.
The most important step any of us can do right now to improve the nation’s mental health is to tell the government what it should include. It doesn’t matter whether you’re someone directly affected by mental illness or whether you know someone who is. Whether you are an organisation that solely focusses on mental health or whether it’s just part of your work. The government need to hear what you think.
There is a risk that some government policies which are in direct conflict with good mental health might be left out of the plan. For example, through our Stop Benefit Deaths Campaign we have been calling on the Department and Work and Pensions (DWP) to do more to prevent self-harm and suicides that result from people’s experiences of the benefits system.
For this plan to be meaningful, the benefits system must be one of the areas that it focusses on. We know that both the level that benefits are set at and how it is run – from assessments to sanctions – have a significant impact on people living with mental illness.
However, there are many areas of government policy that similarly impact mental health.
- Is your mental health affected by education policies?
- Do you come into contact with people who would benefit from a change in the way the Home Office considers mental health in its activities?
As with all plans, there will be priorities. However, no additional budget has yet been made available for anything that comes out of the plan. Any funding would need to be met by existing departmental budgets, meaning it would come at a cost of something else. So, the most important step we can take right now is to tell the government what the plan must focus on and that the plan needs new funding attached.
So, what can you do?
Take a look at the government’s discussion paper and the questions it wants you to answer. Along with a group of organisations who work on mental health policy, we’ve produced a separate survey on the plan available here.
And if you are not certain what to say, or feel you need more information, you can book onto one of our free workshops.
We know it can be hard to work out what you might want to say to the government about a plan like this – particularly if you are a person living with mental illness but also if you represent a small organisation that doesn’t usually respond to government calls for evidence.
So, we have designed these workshops to cover the practicalities of submitting an effective response, as well as providing opportunity for conversation around the themes of the discussion paper to help people consider the messages they may want to get across.
We want to do everything we can to make sure the government hear what needs to be done to improve the nation’s mental health.