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Mental Health North East 2

£69,520 (2011/2012) for the action programme ‘Whose Marketplace is it Anyway?’

The project supported voluntary and community sector providers of mental health and wellbeing services in the North East, and helped ensure that they survive and thrive in the competitive ‘provider market’ that is being driven by personal budgets and direct payments in health and social care.

The main thrust of this work took place in two specific areas with a view to learning being shared across the region. During a preparatory phase, undertaken between January and April 2011, a campaign plan was drawn up for implementation in the financial year 2011/2012.

The project continued MHNE’s work on personalization and mental health and responded to challenges emerging from policy changes in health and social services. It undertook in-depth work with mental health VCS organizations, campaigning on their behalf and on behalf of their beneficiaries and shared learning regionally and nationally.

Following the initial phase of the project, MHNE continued consultations with mental health VCS providers, MHNE’s partners and service users and carers in Derwentside and Newcastle, the two areas on which it was decided to focus. The project supported the mental health VCS in these localities to address issues collaboratively, to produce plans of action and to develop a ‘campaigning culture’.

There is clear evidence that there are higher levels of mental health needs in the North East than elsewhere in England. There has been less investment in statutory mental health services, and mental health needs are more likely to be responded to with medication than in other parts of the country. Initiatives such as personal budgets were introduced more slowly and funding, staffing and services were reduced while demand for support increased. The knock-on effects of the recession and the Government’s policies of financial restraint are particularly significant for people with mental health needs and for the organizations and groups which support them.

The project’s work in Derwentside highlighted the consequences for an area where provision was less developed and capacity more limited. In Newcastle there has been a higher level of resources but these were also being reduced; the project worked through existing forums and networks to try to ensure that mental health was given strategic priority under the new arrangements for commissioning and funding.

In developing a campaigning strategy the project adopted an holistic approach to the effects of current policies and produced a comprehensive summary of key policies and their impact. Its interventions, which were selective, opportunistic and targeted, included contributions to national policy consultations, case studies, briefings for MPs and members of the House of Lords, and articles for publication in the press. Following correspondence with Government Ministers and a meeting with local MPs, in July 2011 MHNE was invited to construct a question on VCS provision for mental health in the North East, which was put to the Secretary of State at the Health Select Committee. The project continued to build on support from North East MPs, members of the House of Lords and local elected representatives.

Final reports, including a summary in the style of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Findings, will be available by Easter 2013.

Tel: 0191 411 1575
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