A Brighter Future for Mental Health in Stoke-on-Trent?

The charity Brighter Futures has recently completed a four-month review of mental illness and how it is treated in Stoke-on-Trent and surrounding areas.
They found that between 77,344 and 87,547 people in the area suffer from some form of mental ill health, a figure higher than the national average. This is perhaps not surprising considering that Stoke-on-Trent might be termed a deprived area, with many of the economic and social problems which often impact on people's mental health. Indeed, many of those involved in the survey said that the closure of mental health resource centres had negatively affected their illness. Welfare reforms also featured as a prominent cause for concern, with the so-called "bedroom tax" flagged up as a particularly troublesome financial burden. Having to wait a long time for decisions relating to benefit eligibility assessments was mentioned as well.
However, the report stated that the biggest problem faced by those experiencing mental ill health was "navigating the system." As the report states: "More than sixty people talked specifically about the mind boggling complexity created by the mixture of agencies, services, processes and information or lack of.
"People said that at best this made getting help difficult, at its worst it prevented them from getting the help they needed when they needed it."
One might venture that such things may also be down to cuts made in services. As NHS budgets shrink, more and more work seems to be being passed on to charities or other agencies and service providers.
On a perhaps brighter note, one of the aims of the review is to lessen the stigma which surrounds mental illness by helping people understand conditions better. It also hopes to be influential in shaping services. As the chairman of Brighter Futures, Mike Wolfe, stated: "We hope the report will tell policymakers and health bosses what it is really like to live with mental ill health and influence the development of services in the future."
So, it would seem that, with this report, the aim of Brighter Futures is to create a brighter future for mental health in Stoke-on-Trent. However, with continuing austerity measures imposed by central government, budget cuts and welfare reforms, one wonders just how successful they will be.



bazza said…
Didn't someone once say "The NHS is safe in our hands"?
Oh yeah, it was our Prime Minister!
I have never heard of Brighter Futures; is it local to you or nationwide?
David said…
Hi bazza,
Yes, I do believe it was our lovely Mr. Cameron who said that. Unfortunately, in terms of mental health at least, it seems that more people are becoming ill with fewer services to deal with them.
Also, I think that Brighter Futures is a mostly local charity, although I have heard that they have certain projects in other areas.
Thanks for still commenting, bazza.
Best Wishes, your way,
bazza said…
David, I work for the North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) and they offer a really impressive range of comprehensive MH services.
However, they still have to struggle for funding each year. It is quite clear that there is an enormous need but..... when there is no blood to see the needs become relegated to 'less urgent'.
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
David said…
Hi bazza,
I suppose I can only comment on services in my own area, but it does seem that for a long time mental health has been seen as secondary to physical health. Perhaps, as you say, if there is no blood to see the need for good services appears less urgent.
Thanks bazza.
Best Wishes,

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