Mental Health Services Must Be at the Heart of Candidates' Assurances

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Mental Health Services Must Be at the Heart of Candidates' Assurances


Byline: Sue Barnes

ON MAY 5, people across Wales will have the chance to vote on who they'd like to represent them as their AMs.

For mental health service users like me, the election is a great opportunity to gain assurances from candidates about their plans for mental health services in Wales.

Over the past 12 months, my colleagues at Hafal have consulted service users and members of the public across the 22 counties of Wales about the mental health issues that are most important to them.

They told us Wales needs a new vision for mental health services.

The three commitments people told us that they wanted from candidates in the forthcoming election are - to protect funding for mental health; deliver on new mental health law and regulations; and to put patients in the driving seat.

When it comes to funding, service users need candidates to assure us they will fully protect resources for mental health - that's both NHS funding and funding provided to local authorities for mental health social care.

I know from my experience as a service user and from my work with Hafal that resources and services across Wales vary considerably in availability and quality. In fact, I'm sure all political parties would agree there's still some way to go before services achieve acceptable standards throughout Wales.

In terms of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure - the new mental health law which was passed last year - service users need candidates' assurance it will be delivered in full and that the regulations and code of practice are developed with our rights in mind to ensure every person with a serious mental illness has an holistic care plan covering all areas of life.

As I've said before, any old content will not do. If the plan simply talks about medication and treatment then it's not much use.

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