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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2009): Mental health services - UK

Antidepressants: the solution or the problem?

J. Cosh

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2009, p. 17-18

There is concern that 40% more per head is spent on antidepressants in Scotland than in England. The Scottish government has responded by pledging 3m to pilot new initiatives to increase access to psychological therapies and halt the increase in antidepressant use.

The economic cost of autism in the UK

M. Knapp, R. Romeo and J. Beecham

Autism, vol.13, 2009, p.317-336

Autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) are now known to be more common than previously thought. This study seeks to estimate the comprehensive costs of ASDs in the UK by combining the best available data on prevalence, intellectual disability, place of residence, service use, lost productivity and unit costs. The costs of supporting children with ASDs were estimated to be 2.7bn per year. For adults, these costs amount to 25bn per year.

Finding help with autism

D. Hayes

Community Care, Apr. 2nd 2009, p. 18-19

Statutory services for autistic children tend to focus on meeting their educational needs. Anything provided outside of this is largely discretionary on the part of the local authority, leading to patchy services. This lack of a consistent national approach can leave parents unsure whether they are eligible for support, what services are available and how to access them. Parents would benefit from a standardised service which they could use when their child was diagnosed.

Harness new technology to give people more independence

M. Nicholas

Community Living, vol. 22, no. 3, 2009, p. 22-23

Article discusses how assistive technology could be used to support people with learning difficulties in their own homes at night, replacing waking night staff. The author's ideas are based on services offered by the state of Wisconsin.

In the face of fear

Mental Health Foundation

London: the Foundation, 2009

More than 7 million Britons are living with anxiety problems, almost a million more than in 1999. The economic recession, knife crime, bird flu, hospital superbugs and terrorism are all contributing to the creation of a culture of fear. Even measures to tackle crime, such as CCTV cameras, may be counter-productive because they intensify fears. In the face of the recession, institutions and individuals are now too scared to lend, spend and invest, despite the fact that such actions would improve the economic situation. The report calls for a campaign to reduce 'institutionally driven fear' and promote better mental health.

A listening ear?

A. Holman

Learning Disability Today, Apr. 2009, p. 10-11

The newly launched Care Quality Commission brings together the regulation of health and social care for the first time. The previous regulator, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, was exceptionally good at involving service users with learning disabilities in its work and communicating with them. This article calls on its successor to follow suit.

Making connections

P. Swift and M. Mattingly

Learning Disability Today, Apr. 2009, p. 28-30

This article reports on learning from Life in the Community, a three year project which explored how up to 40 learning disabled people with complex support needs could be helped to lead more inclusive lifestyles in their local communities. The project used person-centred approaches to plan action for and around individuals. Most participants and their supporters wished to use individual funding as a means of increasing control over their lives and creating a role and relationships for themselves in their communities.

Mental health and human rights

L. Lewis (editor)

Social Policy and Society, vol. 8, 2009, p. 211-292

This themed section explores the implications of human rights issues for the development of mental health policy and services. The papers cover three core themes:

  • The tension in mental health policy between paternalistic or controlling and liberating human rights approaches, and how a better balance in favour of empowering and emancipatory service responses could be achieved
  • How traditional understandings of mental illness and madness have been used to legitimate denial of human rights on grounds of lack of capacity and how conceptions of illness in the mental health field can undermine the upholding of human rights principles such as equality and respect.
  • How social inequalities of gender, class and ethnicity can powerfully frame the specific forms of discrimination and exclusion that often characterise experiences of mental health services and access to rights in this context.

New agency for a new era

I. McPherson

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2009, p. 22-23

Introduces the National Mental Health Development Unit, which is to be the lead agency supporting the implementation of national mental health policy in England. Its initial programme will focus on: improving access to psychological therapies; supporting effective commissioning; delivering equalities; promoting social inclusion and social justice; promoting public mental health; and improving mental health care pathways.

Six lives: the provision of public services to people with learning disabilities

Local Government Ombudsman and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 203)

The report responds to complaints brought by the charity Mencap on behalf of the families of six people with learning disabilities who died whilst in NHS or local authority care between 2003 and 2005 and calls for an urgent review of health and social care for people with learning disabilities. The report shows that on many occasions basic policy and guidance were not observed, the needs of people with learning disabilities were not accommodated and services were un-coordinated. Based on the findings of these investigations the Ombudsmen made three key recommendations in the report:

  1. That all NHS and social care organisations in England should review urgently the effectiveness of the systems they have in place to enable them to understand and plan to meet the full range of needs of people with learning disabilities in their areas; and the capacity and capability of the services they provide and/or commission for their local populations to meet the additional and often complex needs of people with learning disabilities; and should report accordingly to those responsible for the governance of those organisations within 12 months of the publication of the Ombudsmen's report.
  2. That those responsible for the regulation of health and social care services (specifically the Care Quality Commission, Monitor and the Equality and Human Rights Commission) should satisfy themselves, individually and jointly, that the approach taken in their regulatory frameworks and performance monitoring regimes provides effective assurance that health and social care organisations are meeting their statutory and regulatory requirements in relation to the provision of services to people with learning disabilities; and that they should report accordingly to their respective Boards within 12 months of the publication of the Ombudsmen's report.
  3. That the Department of Health should promote and support the implementation of these recommendations, monitor progress against them and publish a progress report within 18 months of the publication of Ombudsmen's report.

The sun finally sets on Orchard Hill

L. Tickle

Community Care, Apr. 2nd 2009, p. 28-30

Reports that by April 30th 2009, Orchard Hill, the last remaining hospital housing people with learning disabilities, will be closed. All its residents will have been transferred to supported housing in the community, where they will be offered a measure of control over their lives that none will have experienced before.

Valuing People: the personalisation agenda

A. Tyson and others

Community Living, vol. 22, no. 3, 2009, p. 14-20

Contributors to this themed section look at: 1) the work of In Control in pioneering self-directed support for older and disabled people; 2) obstacles to the personalisation of social care; and 3) how a specific organisation, Dimensions, is moving towards providing bespoke services tailored to individual needs.

Web health

H. Smith

ChildRight, issue 254, 2009, p. 24-26

Introduces a new website launched by the charity YoungMinds, which aims to empower young people with mental health problems with knowledge about the treatments available. Alongside information about treatment, the site looks at children's rights, and explains how to complain, and ask for a second opinion.

View the site at

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