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Posted on Apr 17 2023 by Fiona Bailey

A Northampton charity has joined a national campaign that is trying to tackle the “failing mental health system” for many people by “shining a spotlight” on the shortfalls within the sector.

St Andrew’s Healthcare is now part of the Association of Mental Health Providers, the national voice for charities across England and Wales that provide mental health and wellbeing services.

The membership means there is now Northampton representation within the organisation and support for the sector across the town will now be bolstered due to the strength of its other members from within the charitable sector.

St Andrew’s Healthcare’s CEO Dr Vivienne McVey, said: “Becoming a member of the Association of Mental Health Providers is an honour and privilege. We believe there is strength in numbers and being part of the Association means we can work together towards a whole-system approach which will improve health and care in the UK. At the moment our mental health system is failing many people, so by joining forces we’re helping to shine a spotlight on the shortfalls within the sector.

“At St Andrew’s we provide specialist mental healthcare for patients with some of the most complex, challenging mental health needs in the UK. We’re in the business of giving hope to people and by joining forces with other like-minded charities, together we can start to enforce real change within the sector because something urgently needs to be done.”

Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of the Association, said: “I've worked in this sector for over 40 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it. There is an increase in prevalence of mental illness in society, an increase in the intensity of need, and an increase in demand for services. The whole system is cracking but the vital services delivered by mental health charities are being overlooked.

“Our members deliver a wide range of over 3000 mental health services locally, regionally, and nationally. This means there is a mental health charity supporting our NHS in delivering mental health services in every local area of this country.

“The demand for services is outstripping the allocation of funding and resources that mental health charities have available to them and the Association is seeing many close their doors, or considering doing so.

“Without the charity supporting a person to live safe and well in the community, not only will some of the most vulnerable people in our society be left without help, but their deteriorating mental health will most likely result in increase pressure on the NHS.”

The Association calculates more than two million people are either unable to access any mental health care or require more specialist services than those being provided.

Kathy added: “Our concerns are compounded when we see that there is significant variation across the country that Local Authorities and the NHS have to spend on mental health. This means when and how a person might receive support is entirely dependent on where they live, and there is an even greater inequality of access if you belong to a marginalised community.

Mental health charities provide an extensive range of support including counselling; talking therapies; housing and accommodation; money, benefits, and debt advice; advocacy; crisis; and more, taking a trauma-informed, and culturally appropriate approach where necessary.

“With the varying pressures and challenges worsening people's mental wellbeing and contributing to increasing numbers of people experiencing mental health crisis and at risk of suicide, mental health must be at the top of our political and societal agendas. Mental health has not achieved parity with physical health, there is not the level of investment that is needed especially in the charity sector, and there is not fair and equitable access to mental health services in every local area for every community.”

The Association’s new #MHEqualityNow campaign aims to raise awareness of the exponentially rising unmet need for mental health services, and is calling on the Government to recognise the critical part mental health charities play in delivering mental health services by committing to sustainable ongoing and future funding for the sector.