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Posted on Jul 12 2022 by Bobbie Kelly

“We must reduce stigma around severe and complex mental health conditions” 

St Andrew’s is lobbying the Government to put stigma reduction front and centre of a new 10-year mental health plan.

As part of a call for evidence from the Department of Health and Social Care, patients with complex mental health conditions, carers, and healthcare staff have been sharing their thoughts on the current state of the mental healthcare system. 

Over the past 12 weeks, St Andrew’s has hosted a series of co-produced conversations, encouraging everyone across the charity to have their say. It is clear from this feedback that significant changes are needed, and it is vital for the health of the nation that mental and physical health on an equal footing.

The feedback has shown that people must be encouraged to openly discuss mental health and wellbeing earlier, rather than at crisis point. This is critical in order to reduce the stigma that still exists around severe and complex mental health conditions.

St Andrew’s is also calling for the need for preventative intervention, such as good housing, access to education, employment support and free healthcare, as these factors can all greatly impact an individual’s mental wellbeing. Employers have a role to play, as feedback found that organisations should have a greater responsibility for wellbeing promotion, ensuring that employees work in environments that enable positive wellbeing.

The focus groups also called for equality, with people from all over the country having the same consistency of access to mental health support. For adults, especially older adults, the feedback highlighted how important it is for people to play an active part in their community, with social contact vital for good mental wellbeing.

It was felt that one of the most important areas to focus on and invest in is Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. The focus groups called for an improvement of awareness and understanding for teachers, professionals and parents, to ensure that young people get the support they need at the right time.

Chloe While, St Andrew’s Patient Engagement Manager, explained: “It is critically important that the Government listens and takes notice of the views of people affected by serious mental health conditions. This will be a fantastic plan, but it must be translated into real action. By addressing the health disparities that exist in the UK, we have a real opportunity to improve the mental wellbeing of the whole nation.”

St Andrew’s submission included feedback from around 100 people across our charity. The detailed response that St Andrew’s submitted in response to this call for evidence is available here