In the past week, reports have been published out of the U.S., the U.K. and Northern Ireland addressing how much money is spent—and should be spent—on mental health coverage such as psychotherapy, family counseling, and substance abuse treatment. Perhaps most notably, Britain has just unveiled a new program called No Health Without Mental Health that affirms mental health as an essential part of health care. The new policy is the result of collaboration between several government departments as well as mental health professionals and advocates. On the whole, the policy displays understanding of the integral role that mental health plays in the wellbeing of both individuals and society at large.
There are six objectives central to the plan laid out in No Health Without Mental Health. First, the policy emphasizes the importance of reaching a broad audience: improving the reach of care and diminishing the number of people adversely affected by mental health problems. Secondly, it recognizes that mental health care directly correlates with quality of life. Thirdly, it recognizes the connections between untreated mental health and both physical ailment and premature death. Fourth, it acknowledges that such negative outcomes are often avoidable through adequate therapy and treatment. Fifth, it emphasizes that mental health care ought to be a positive experience. And sixth, it takes aim at reducing discrimination and stigma surrounding mental health issues and people affected by them.
The nuance of these tenets is heartening, especially the assertion that therapy and counseling should be positive experiences. Additional government documents repeatedly emphasize that the strategy is “for people of all ages.” Overall, reception to the announcement has been positive, but various mental health advocacy groups have stressed the importance that funding follow in the policy’s footsteps. The Northern Ireland Branch of the Division of Clinical Psychology emphasizes the importance of investing funds in therapy, in particular. And the Royal College of Nursing fears that while No Health Without Mental Health is on the right track, funding for mental health may actually be reduced in the wake of the government’s pledge to make up £20 billion in efficiency savings.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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