Improving Mental Health for All Conference

conference 2

On 16th March, delegates including Andy Burnham and Maqsood Ahmad spoke at the Improving Mental Health for All Conference, as part of the initiative for Mental Health: Moving Forwards - The Implementation Plan.

Iris Benson MBE shared her experience and explained how those strengths and skills of lived experience was helping to improve recovery. Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Lynn King went on to explain how peer support was helping the Trust identify service user needs and reduce the likelihood of crisis care and distress.

Co-production was a key theme of Jacqueline Dyer’s talk, as she stressed that the voices of those with lived experience need to be included in decision-making, from commissioning to co-design of mental health services.

The power of co-production was also highlighted by Grief Recovery specialist Phyl Edmonds, who shared her personal experiences of loss and recovery and how those with lived experience can better support steps to recovery and well-being. 

Early interventions are a core focus of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, and Jacqueline Cornish explained and children and young people were being embedded in key programmes such as data and new care models. Although new funding was welcomed it amounts to a 1% budget increase and still lags significantly behind adult services. Improved crisis care and access to and use of inpatient care can reduce overall bed usage and match local demand with capacity.

Andy Burnham told the audience that, as former Secretary of State for Health in Cabinet, he observed first-hand that the political system is not connecting with people and failing to respond effectively as it should. He said that in the future more change will come from local inspiration in Greater Manchester than from direction from Westminster. Burnham stressed that a 21st Century NHS needs to move away from the medical treatment model to social prescribing and a more person-centred approach.

Online therapies and digital solutions are a core focus of the Five Year Forward View in Mental health and this was well represented by innovative examples. Stephen Freer from Ieso Digital Health how evidence-based therapy and online services can help to deliver affordable, widespread access and help tackle core challenges such funding and providing 24/7 provision of quality care. Helios’ Richard Andrews made the case for family-based therapy and how digital channels can ensure that service users are more engaged and connected and services are more adaptable.

For more information on this event and the Improving Mental Health for All initiative, please visit the Open Forum Events website.