After a hugely successful 2015 conference attended by over 430 people, one of the conference speakers, adult mental health practitioner Raksha Sidhu, reflects upon the sense of hope engendered there despite the devastating changes being enacted upon the social and health care sector:
"The western world we currently inhabit is changing at an alarming rate. 'Change' is the buzz word everywhere, in the media, in the corporate sector and now in the social and health care sector. In fact, the changes are so rapid there is no time to reflect on the impact of these changes, and who they are really benefitting. Social care polices are made and dismantled at a speed which beguiles reason. The Care Act 2014 has come out, promising even more services to greater numbers of people, with precious little resources to match these promises.
SWAN supporters will already be familiar with the SWAN endorsed Mental Health Charter which was launched in 2014. The Charter critiques the crisis in mental health services in the context of austerity and calls for an end to the cuts while proposing radical alternatives. Recently the Mental Health Charter responded to the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Independent Commission into the state of Inpatient Adult Psychiatric Care as part of its call for evidence.
Nick Clegg pronounced, in his speech to the LibDem conference, that there was ‘outrageous discrimination’ in how the NHS responded to individuals with mental health problems and promised new funding to breach the gap between physical and psychological treatments. According to the Guardian (8.10.14) ‘mental health campaigners’ welcomed this as ‘a significant advance’.
Jeremy Weinstein of SWAN London reports from the recent 'Crisis in Mental Health' meeting on 8th November. The day was a packed and enthusiastic affair, following on from similar conferences in Bristol and Oxford. The hall we met in was packed and a second room had stalls from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), CoolTan Arts, Unison and a Bookmarks bookstall. Amongst the audience were practitioners from nine London boroughs and a range of service user groups, the most prominent being DPAC, several MIND groups and the Movement for an Adoption Apology.