Heather Henry, co-chair, New NHS Alliance says: “The New NHS Alliance welcomes the ‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’ and the call for mental and physical health to have equal status and funding. If we want ‘mentally healthy communities’ we must start with what helps people stay well equally with what prevents them from being ill. This is beyond traditional health promotion and prevention. We summarise this using 3Cs: people feeling in control of their own lives, having meaningful contact with each other and building the confidence of residents and communities – we call this health creation. This requires a multi-faceted approach; one that permeates all decisions not only in the physical and mental health sectors, but also those of local authorities and the wider community.
“Local authorities play a vital role in health creation. While the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health assures vulnerable people will receive adequate housing care, the housing benefit cap to local housing allowance levels is still likely to have a major impact on many people, who will lose control of their ability to choose where to live.
“There are two issues to tackle – the falling amounts spent year on year on mental health services and understanding more about how to create ‘mentally healthy communities’. To do this we need not only resident input into commissioning and delivery of services but co-production with communities to enable them to self-help. Nesta calls this ‘people powered health’. As well as patient-centred care we need to foster relationship-centred care. That means more listening and focusing on what matters to families and communities, not just our own service priorities.
“The New NHS Alliance agrees that issues like worklessness and poor housing are often root causes of mental distress. But it goes beyond this, into the culture of families and communities. Primary care is a non-stigmatising sector that can effectively work alongside communities and the services that support them. Social prescribing is the low hanging fruit of good mental health. But seeing residents as truly equal partners has the potential to not only transform the lives of people, but also to make significant financial savings to the NHS.”