As we come to the end of 2017 I wanted to take some time to reflect on what the biggest changes have been this year for mental health both externally with Government and the NHS and also for us here at Mind. This last twelve months have felt like the time things have finally started to change and the rhetoric we have heard so much of in recent years is finally starting to creep through into practical, positive changes on the front line. Make no mistake though, these are just first steps and there is still much more to be done before we can be sure everybody living with a mental health problem gets both the support and respect they deserve.
In no particular order, my top ten highlights of the year are:
1. NHS England’s Mental Health Dashboard. This might sounds like an odd choice to start with, a spreadsheet that is updated quarterly on the NHS England website but without doubt, this is the tool the will allow us to drive continued change. Finally having clear, open, transparent data that shows how, where and how much money the NHS is investing into mental health gives us the information we need when holding both commissioners and providers to account.
2. NHS England’s extra investment into Talking Therapies. We saw in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health the Government wanted to see more people getting access to talking therapies. Though there was some scepticism at first it’s great to see the starting to come into operation and even better, to know the targets are due to increase next year and the year after.
3. After a long campaign, with much public and media support NHS England awarded Humber NHS Foundation Trust the contract to build and run a new inpatient facility for Children and Young People with acute mental health problems. Though not due to open until next year, this investment should bring to an end to appalling situation of families being split up and children being put into hospital placements hundreds of miles away.
4. At the end of 2017 Government published its long awaited Green Paper on Mental Health for Children and Young People. Though it still leaves many unanswered questions it is at least a starting point and gives us all a clear focus going into 2018 on where we need to lobby for greater investment and support.
5. Locally, 2017 saw the opening of the Crisis Pad in Hull, a pilot project designed to test alternatives to A&E or an emergency admission for adults in mental distress. Evaluation from the pilot should will form the basis for long term project that in time may be scaled up to offer support to many more people who can benefit from it.
6. 2017 saw the launch of a pilot project between Mind and Humberside Police testing a new way of working in the police control hub with Mind staff on duty to help advise and support mental health related calls. Its initial success has led to continuation funding and a clear hope that once the final evaluation is in the project will continue on a long term basis.
7. Both Hull City Council and East Riding CCG have been developing new Mental Health strategies this year. Both are take a partnership approach a much clearer focus on the wider determinants of health, personal, community and systems resilience.
8. With the closure of Grimsby and Cleethorpes Mind in April 2017, Hull and East Yorkshire Mind stepped in to help create the new North East Lincolnshire Mind. Though still early in its development, NEL Mind is already offered an information service across the area and has plans for early 2018 to introduce both 1-1 and peer support activities.
9. Whilst looking at how best to meet the needs to people with mental health problems it became clear there was a need for specialist support to help people with more acute and complex mental health problems to live more independently at home. To meet this need, Hull and East Yorkshire Mind have developed a new trading subsidiary called Wellington Care that registered with the Care Quality Commission and is ready to start delivering from the beginning of 2018.
10. Finding the right housing for people is a real challenge and is one of the reasons Hull and East Yorkshire Mind became a Housing Association in 2016. In 2017 we took on the ownership of two properties with the second being a building project for four new one bedroom apartments. Completion of these is expected by Easter 2018 and the people who will be living there getting involved in both the design and construction of will become their new home.
Of course, there were many, many more developments in 2017 and 2018 is already shaping up to be an exciting year. On the horizon we have the building work on Hull and East Yorkshire Minds 14 bed residential unit about to start, the STP Mental Health Delivery Board plans for improving Urgent Care, Community Mental Health Care and reducing Out of Area Placements about to start bearing fruit and within the Mind network a push to make sure community support and community services are at the forefront of delivering good mental health support.
As always, there will be some bumps along the way with the most worrying at the moment being Hull City Councils reprocurement of its Housing Related Support contracts. Whilst it’s still a little unclear what this means the messages we’re hearing have raised a few concerns and we’ll be lobbying hard to make sure the voice of people with lived experience is heard loudly and clearly as the specification is finalised and procurement begins.
It’s going to be interesting to see where we are this time next year!