“Together for Mental Health” debate takes place today

A Mental Health Service User and Carer Panel has produced a briefing document ahead of today’s hour-long debate in the Senedd on the Welsh Government’s draft Mental Health Strategy, “Together for Mental Health”, which is currently out for public consultation.

The Panel represents and has regular contact with large numbers of service users and carers across Wales. The briefing states that while service users and carers in Wales welcome the new mental health Strategy they believe there are four areas of the Strategy that should be strengthened:

1.       The Strategy needs to make clear that secondary mental health services will be reformed, that resources for secondary mental health services will be protected, and that there will be greater transparency on ring-fencing.

2.       We need to broaden the engagement of service users and carers – both in the delivery of their own Care and Treatment Plans and in the wider planning and delivery of services.

3.       The Strategy needs to have greater emphasis on the needs of carers and the vital role they play.

4.       The Strategy should include a series of clear, meaningful and measurable outcomes for people using secondary mental health services.

Today’s debate followsyesterday’s launch, by Health and Social Services Minister Lesley Griffiths AM, of the Code of Practice to Parts 2 and 3 of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure along with a new publication, developed by Hafal in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation and Bipolar UK, “Care and Treatment Planning: a step-by-step guide for secondary mental health service users”.

The purpose of the Code is to give clear guidance to mental health service providers in Wales so that they meet their obligations under Part 2 of the Measure (Coordination of and Care Planning for Secondary Mental Health Service Users) and Part 3 (Assessments of Former Users of Secondary Mental Health Services). The new Care and Treatment Planning guide is designed to help service users get the most from the new Care and Treatment Plans which were introduced on June 6th and are part of the historic Mental Health (Wales) Measure.

Speaking at the event in Cardiff which was attended by 70 mental health service users, carers and professionals, the Minister said: “I’m delighted to have this opportunity to launch two key documents which support the landmark development in the evolution of modern, user-focussed mental health care in Wales.

“This event illustrates how as a Government we are working in partnership and collaborating with all of our stakeholders. The shared aim of such documents is to make Welsh mental health services truly responsive to the needs of services users, their families, their carers and fit for the 21st Century.

“Hafal’s Guide has been developed in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and Bipolar UK and has been specifically developed with service users and carers in mind. I am sure it will provide a helpful and valuable resource. I am particularly impressed with the way the Guide provides clear, concise and practical advice for service users on how their active involvement in care planning can help them achieve a better quality of life. Both the Guide and the Code of Practice highlight we must all do what we can to ensure service users are in a position to positively influence the care they receive.”

Hafal Recovery Practitioner Lee McCabe also spoke at yesterday’s event. Lee has been involved in the development of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure from the beginning. He gave evidence at the Assembly and at Parliament; when he proposed the new mental health legislation, Jonathan Morgan – then an Assembly Member – said the most convincing evidence for reform came from listening to Lee’s story.

Lee said: “For me today’s event symbolises a new approach to mental health services, one in which there is a real co-operation between those responsible for delivering services and those people like me on the receiving end. All credit to the Welsh Government for respecting the views of patients. We won’t always agree, and we at Hafal won’t always get our way, but that’s OK so long as there is a real dialogue of equals.”

For more information on today’s debate in the Senedd please click here

To download a copy of Hafal’s Mental Health Service User and Carer Panel Response to the Draft Strategy please click here

To view pictures from yesterday’s launch event on Hafal’s Facebook page please click here

To view Hafal’s Twitter page please click here

For the latest news on mental health issues in Wales please click here

To read Hafal Chief Executive Bill Walden-Jones’ blog please click here

For more information on Hafal www.hafal.org