Richard's January Blog

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Good to see mental health in the news this week, with the Government’s launch of “Closing the Gap” (“Closing the Gap: priorities for essential change in mental health” DoH 2014) accompanied by an acknowledgment from Nick Clegg that mental health lags far behind physical health as a priority – and 25 priorities for change to help it catch up. The priorities include a couple of Mind’s recent campaigning themes: clear waiting times for treatment and a radical reduction in high risk restraint.

There’s also a promise, which many of Mind’s members would cheer if they thought it would really happen, that no -one experiencing a mental health crisis should ever be turned away from services. But as you read the text, you do get the sense that everything will hinge on the definition of “crisis” – whose crisis; that of the public service or the person with the mental health issue?

But everyone will welcome the emphasis on services for children and young people, and for new mothers at risk of post natal depression. And I like the acknowledgement that people with mental health problems are far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators and should therefore be offered enhanced support – something our national media might want to consider.

The really intriguing thing was the timing of the launch – the last Monday in January is traditionally known as “blue Monday” with Christmas memories receding into the January gloom and nothing to look forward to for months. Is the Government trying to cheer us up in the most depressing week of the year? I’m not hanging round to find out. My remedy for the January blues – a trip to Patagonia!