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Sector Round Up: Increasing Investment and Ongoing Challenges

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February has been a busy month for the mental health sector with a number of Government announcements that will have a far-reaching and long-term impact on the work being carried out to reduce the use of restraint across social, health and education services.

On 15 February, the Restraint Reduction Network welcomed the publication of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health Report (pdf) from the Government’s Mental Health Taskforce, chaired by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind. On the back of this report, the government announced an extra £1 billion investment in mental health care by 2021, with more than one million more individuals receiving support.

The report sets out a number of recommendations, including a range of measures to reduce the number of suicides by 10 per cent, further investment in maternal mental health services and ending the practice of sending individuals outside of their local area to receive acute inpatient care. Care Minister, Alistair Burt, said “[the] report gives a fantastic boost to changes in mental health services, with more care available close to people’s homes. I particularly welcome the fact that young people and new and expectant mums will get the mental health care they need.”

From our point of view, the report makes specific reference to ‘restraint’, stating that ‘mental health staff should be trained to treat people with sensitivity, in the least restrictive way possible, prescribing in line with standards and using restraint only in exceptional circumstances’ and that ‘restraint will be used only as a last resort.’ This approach reflects the role the Restraint Reduction Network will have to play in delivering our vision of restraint-free care and support that make a real difference in the lives of people who use services.

Earlier in month, the Government also announced plans to limit the use of police cells in mental health care. This coincided with the release of new figures on restraint injuries in custody. In 2014/15 more than 150 people under the age of 18 experiencing a mental health crisis were detained in police cells. The changes to the Mental Health Act will see this practice end. Regulations will also be introduced to ‘limit the circumstances in which police cells can be used as a place of safety for adults’.

Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime, Karen Bradley, said “The best place for people experiencing a mental health crisis is a healthcare setting, and those experiencing mental health problems should receive specialist care and support from healthcare professionals, rather than police officers.”

Check out the key note presentation delivered by Commander Christine Jones from the Metropolitan Police at the 2015 Restraint Reduction Conference, where she gave a strategic oversight of mental health and policing topics. (Click for video)

The Restraint Reduction Network is committed to enabling you and your organisation to continue to demonstrate your commitment to reducing restrictive practices to users and families, commissioners and regulators. It’s encouraging to know that broader sector developments reflect our own thinking as we strive for the very best in person-centred care.