Election season is now upon us!  The next few weeks will see all the parties campaigning for our attention and our vote.  At Freedom Care we are particularly interested in what the different parties – and prospective local candidates – will do to help families with complex needs, particularly those in need of mental health care.

The issue was raised before campaigning officially began by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.  He grabbed the headlines in mid March by promising  £1.25 billion extra for children and young people’s mental health services in England over the next five years.  He spoke passionately of the need for a  “seismic shift” to end the “injustice” of some young people being left without access to care or treatment.

The inadequacies and  failings of the system have recently been highlighted by a taskforce of experts and NHS chiefs in England set up by the government.  This taskforce – set up by Norman Lamb, Minister of State at the Department of Health  – describes how there are an increasing numbers of referrals, longer waiting times and more complex and severe problems being presented by patients.  It says there is a lack of clear leadership and accountability across different agencies, access to crisis services is variable and “real changes” across the system are required. Children and young people’s mental health services are, says the report, facing “ingrained and systemic” problems.

An example of a young person who has been let down by the system is 17 year old Nikki from Surrey.  In this interview she describes difficulties and delays in accessing the treatment she needed for her mental health issues, which could have put her life in jeopardy.

Now the election campaign is in full swing, Nick Clegg has pledged to put mental health “front and centre” of the political debate.  His Liberal Democrat “Manifesto for the Mind” plans to revolutionise mental health care in England over the next parliament with £3.5bn worth of funding.

At Freedom Care we will watch with interest as the various parties reveal their different plans and priorities.  We sincerely hope that, whoever comes to power in May, significant improvements are indeed made to the system and funding of mental health care in this country.  Whatever the outcome, we will continue to work tirelessly to provide person-centered care to our service users and to help them in every way we can to move from possibility to actuality.

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