Headlines: April 17th, 2000

The Government’s new ‘tsar’ for mental health has a huge task ahead of him in making Britain a better place for people with mental health problems to live, says the Kings Fund.The independent healthcare charity says that the mental health tsar will have to work across Government, co-ordinating the Government policies on benefits, access to work, criminal justice and housing.

King’s Fund chief executive Rabbi Julia Neuberger said “Mental ill health is related to fundamental social problems like poverty, worklessness, bad housing and crime.”

The charity says every facet of Government policy needs to consider the needs of people with mental health problems, and that they need high quality treatment and support from the NHS, which has previously marginalised this area of health.

The charity says that the new appointment of Professor Louis Appleby, one of Britain’s leading psychiarists, to spearhead the Government’s drive to modernise and reform mental health services is a welcome policy change from previous work in this area by the Government.

This, says the charity, has focussed more on the control of mentally ill people, rather than on helping them live a normal life.

Louis Appleby’s formal title is as National Director for Mental Health. He has been closely involved in the development of the National Service Framework on mental health and brings a lot of clinical and academic expertise to the job.

Implementation of the National Service Framework for Mental Health commenced in April 2000 and sets 7 national standards for mental health services and will help to drive up quality and reduce variations in services to patients and service users.

Link: www.kingsfund.org.uk