Reassert the social care and local government role in mental health services

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: June 4, 2008
Embargo: 00.01hrs Friday June 6, 2008

Directors of adult social services today call for a new, ambitious vision  and cross-Government strategy for mental health and wellbeing.

According to ADASS President John Dixon, it is time to reassert, on behalf of people with mental health needs, the important connections to be made with their communities, including better access to good housing, education, leisure facilities and the world of work.

He went on to argue that the days of silo-style thinking, where mental illness was  seen as a `health issue and learning disability a `social care issue, are long gone: Current practice needs to reflect current changes in policy, he said.

The ADASS report is properly concerned that, while there is widespread multi-professional ownership of concepts such as `recovery and `inclusion, deeds do not always keep pace with words. Each local authority and its NHS partners need to determine services which meet local needs.

But we in ADASS believe that social cares retreat from mental health has gone far enough.

The paper published today* calls for a new, ten-year, cross-government national strategy for mental health and wellbeing focusing on eight priorities:

  • Enabling people to live ordinary lives
  • Putting the person first
  • Safeguarding people
  • Developing effective and accessible services
  • Creating a mentally healthy society
  • Supporting people who care for people with mental health problems
  • Building capacity in public services
  • Taking forward Vision 2015: the future of mental health, published by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social Services in 2006

Although the paper focuses primarily on the needs of people aged 18 - 65, it notes the arguments for greater flexibility around traditional age silos, recognising that a personalised and more responsive approach to mental health and wellbeing will be defined by need, not chronology.

Jenny Goodall and Richard Webb, co-chairs of the ADASS Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Policy Network, and authors of the report said that "This is a clarion call for the strong role which local government and social care can, and will, play in the future mental health of the country. Mental health services simply must become more personalised and more accessible."

ENDS

For further information contact:
John Dixon, ADASS President, 01243 777660
Richard Webb, Co-Chair, ADASS Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Policy Network, 01952 381005
Jenny Goodall, Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Policy Network, 020 7332 1650
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

 Portrait photographs of John Dixon, Richard Webb and Jenny Goodall are available on request.

* Mental Health into the Mainstream, ADASS 2008, available at www.adass.org.uk from June 6 onwards.