Policy and Influencing
From social care to the criminal justice system, our policy and influencing team works tirelessly to ensure that people with mental illness have a say in the care and support that they receive. As the leading mental illness charity in England, we know that we can shape the national conversation and with it, the future of mental health care.
Mental health social care services support people of all ages who live with severe mental illness, and their carers. The mental health social care workforce can help people get appropriate aftercare after a stay in a mental health hospital, to stay well, to live independently and participate in or contribute to community life, and to prevent their mental health getting worse. However, this role is not well understood and is frequently overlooked in favour of more traditional understandings of social care. Through policy and influencing work, we aim to raise the profile of mental health social care services, and call for these services to receive the long-term and sustainable funding they need.
It is difficult to imagine anyone maintaining good mental health if they don’t first have a place to call home. We want people severely affected by mental illness to live in safe, secure, stable, affordable and high quality homes in their community where they have choice and control over their space and support they have around them. Our policy and influencing work focuses on improving the availability of supported housing, which supports people to leave hospital and develop skills for independent living, and developing a vision for the future of housing for those living with mental illness.
Ensuring the physical and psychological safety of people severely affected by mental illness is an important focus of our policy work. We are working with experts by experience, the government and other charities to improve the safety and quality of care in mental health hospitals.
Employment can play an important role in well-being. Work can provide a sense of control, clear goals to work towards and a way of connecting with your community. Too many people severely affected by mental illness are unable to find work or participate in vocational training. Our policy work aims to improve access to work and vocational training for people severely affected by mental illness and ensure that they are provided with meaningful and stable opportunities that support their well-being.
People severely affected by mental illness, as well as their families and carers, are protected by certain rights enshrined in UK legislation. This includes the right to care and support to improve independence and well-being (the Care Act), the right to make decisions wherever possible (the Mental Capacity Act) and protection from discrimination (the Equalities Act). The Human Rights Act protects a person’s human rights including the right to liberty and the right to life. If a public authority such as a hospital or prison, doesn’t respect these rights, then the person can bring a claim against them.
Mental Health Act
Rethink Mental Illness has been campaigning to improve the Mental Health Act since the 1980s. The Act allows people to be detained and treated without their consent if their mental illness means they pose a risk to themselves or others. These laws are vital but the Act is badly out of date as it assumes people with mental illness shouldn't have a say in their treatment, or how their loved ones are involved in their care. We have been campaigning to change that.
Everyone living with a mental illness deserves to access the right treatment at the right time. Treatment from the NHS, whether that is medication, psychological therapies or other support, plays an enormously important role in helping people to recover and stay well. Our policy work aims to ensure that NHS mental health services are properly funded and staffed, and that important commitments, such as establishment of new models of community mental health care, are delivered.
Those severely affected by mental illness often experience poorer physical health outcomes, living with higher rates of conditions such as obesity, diabetes and COPD and having shorter life expectancy on average than their peers. This is due to a complex range of causal and contributory factors, including those that relate to living with a mental illness.We work to make sure that signs of poor physical health are identified early and addressed through follow-up support that understands the relationship between mental and physical health.
Racial Justice and Equity
At Rethink Mental Illness we believe in equality. Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. We know that people from minority ethnic communities in the UK are more likely to experience mental illness but are less likely to receive the mental health care support they need. And we know that this is partly due to the stigma around mental health in some minority ethnic communities. But we also know that these racial disparities in mental health service access and treatment stem from historical and societal prejudice, racism and discrimination.
Benefits and money
We believe financial security is essential to maintaining good mental health. From improving the benefits system to addressing cost-of-living issues, our policy work aims to create a society in which everyone severely affected by mental illness has enough money to live the lives they want.
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