IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

You can’t hide it: £300k cuts will hit mental health day services

06 July, 2018

• IT is highly misleading of Councillor Janet Burgess to say that mental health day services in Islington can be “redesigned so that they better meet the needs of Islington residents” while cutting the budget by £300,000, (Our plans for Islington’s mental health day services, June 22).

It is an insult to staff who work in those centres, whose support, skills and dedication help to prevent people with chronic mental health issues relapsing and becoming more acutely unwell.

It is also disingenuous to people who use services and who try hard to maintain some level of wellbeing. Cuts create fear and anxieties for people who use services and staff.

Since 2010, services in Islington have been closing. Redesigned and restructured day services have affected staffing ratios, opening times and access to services, while confusing and confounding people who use services as to where to find the necessary support.

Constantly we hear from central government that mental health services need to be put on an equal footing with physical health and that there is no health without mental health, but sadly this is not happening.

Recommissioning these days is rarely about improvement, or development, but about cuts or saving money that means fewer staff and resources, and less of a service.

Day services can be places where people discover mutual support – social networks facilitating wellbeing – and places where staff can help people to work on their recovery goals, and assess quickly if a person slips into becoming more acutely unwell. Services offer signposts to other specialist services and support a person through housing, benefits or other issues and also develop their creativity.

Often there are no quick fixes to mental ill health. For some it can be a lifelong journey. One of the compounding factors in mental ill health is isolation, with people left alone to fend for themselves while still coping with significant mental health issues. So please, Cllr Burgess, stop disguising the fact that closing buildings and cutting budgets will make a better service for residents.

However hard you try to disguise the fact, £300,000 of savings/cuts to the mental health budget means there will be less of a service, less well-trained staff, and fewer people supported through their recovery goals.

What the council needs to do is find other ways to make £300,000 of savings from the mental health budget, and, as Jeremy Corbyn has suggested, ring-fence the mental health budget.

SARA RIVERS
Newington Green 

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