Broken Down: Families, Government strategies and mental health

Last week the Government pledged £400m over the next 4 years to extending talking therapies for children, young people and people with long term conditions. Though this initiative is to be welcomed, a report last week from the Centre of Social Justice (CSJ) highlighted family breakdown was unacknowledged in the government’s mental health strategy “No health without mental health”.

Amongst the CSJ’s key findings, the report identifies the risks and protective factors that families pose in mental illness. In their polling,

  • half thought family breakdown was a major cause of poor mental health
  • more than 60 per cent thought poor mental health was a contributor to family breakdown
  • fewer than a third thought poverty was a major cause of poor mental health.
  • half said that childhood and family factors were a major cause of their or their relative or friends’ poor mental health.

The Mental Health Strategy’s objectives generally refocus on prevention and rehabilitation of mental health sufferers, but further recognises the need to address physical health, quality of care and societal discrimination. However it does use some cases that indicated the success of multisystemic therapy and working with the family as a whole. It is questionable however whether it recognises the importance of the timeliness of this intervention.

The money bit of the strategy hopes that the investment in mental health savings will lead to £700m savings in healthcare, tax and welfare gains. This is against the backdrop of a cost estimate of mental health problems to the economy of £105bn.

Greater allocations for this type of intervention has been a long campaign. There remain  some reservations however, over the dependability of the resource allocation, as there is a danger of this sum being subsumed by the local NHS trusts.

What are talking therapies?

The most widely accepted types of talking therapy are cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoanalysis and group therapy. All talking therapies aim to encourage the patient to talk through and explore their feelings in order to address harmful thoughts, beliefs or actions, such as psychotic thoughts, self-destructive thoughts or addictive behaviour.

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