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WMCA recommends integrated approach to mental health

The “broken” national mental health system means the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is developing its own integrated approach to mental health care.

Today Norman Lamb MP, former minister for community and social care and chair of the WMCA Mental Health Commission, summarised the commission’s year-long work at the WMCA’s AGM.

He recommended a multi-agency, holistic approach and ambitious targets for the WMCA, which could include commitments to no ‘out of area’ mental health placements, no use of police custody, reducing the use of restraint and seclusion and diverting people from the criminal justice system.

Lamb said: “Nationally, the current system is broken and what we’re seeing is waste, not just in financial terms, but in terms of people not being able to live the full, productive lives they deserve because of a mental health issue. It is an economic and moral failure.

“But we are not daunted. We know that this commission has a significant job to do in order to drive change and bring about improved services for people with mental health issues across our region and beyond and we want to see and make change. 

“We already have a strong buy-in from local organisations including the NHS and we take very seriously the comments and evidence we have received from members of the public as we move the work of the commission forward.”

Earlier this year, the Mental Health Taskforce found widespread problems in national mental health care, as reported in PSE’s sister title National Health Executive.

The WMCA was not formally established today as planned because of last-minute objections raised by John Spellar, MP for Warley.

The commission included a steering group of representatives of the local NHS, adult social care, housing associations, third sector groups, DWP and the police and a citizens’ jury of people with experience of mental health problems and their families.

Other recommendations the commission is considering include developing an employer’s coalition to promote good mental health in the workplace; publicly promoting ‘mental health first aid’; improving mentally ill people’s access to work placements and housing and improving integration of mental and physical health care; and mental health champions for BME and LGBQT communities.

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