Mental health campaigner, Dean Russell MP, welcomes £1.14m funding for mental health services across Hertfordshire including £350,000 for Watford General.
An additional £150 million has been announced to fund new mental health support services as part of ongoing campaign for better mental health provision.
The funding includes Watford General Hospital who will benefit from more than £350,000 to April 2025 for improvements to mental health facilities, with a further £1.14 million across Hertfordshire and West Essex. Projects include improvements to digital infrastructure, crisis café’s and safe spaces.
Anyone experiencing a mental health emergency or at risk of experiencing one, will benefit from more tailored emergency care and support in the community through specialised mental health ambulances, more crisis services, and improved health-based places of safety.
The funding will be invested in 150 new projects as non-medical alternatives for urgent mental health care including crisis cafes, safe havens and sanctuaries. These all provide a safe and supportive space for someone experiencing emotional distress or nearing or in a mental health crisis and act as an alternative to A&E, including during out-of-hours.
This will be supported with improvements to NHS 111 and crisis phone lines as well as the procurement of 100 new mental health ambulances, which will take specialist staff directly to patients to deliver support on scene or transfer them to the most appropriate place for care.
The new ambulances have been designed to provide a calmer environment, staffed by both physical and mental health professionals, equipped to respond to and assess people on-scene or take people to the most appropriate place for care in their community, reducing the amount of people who are taken to A&E by ambulance services.
Dean has been a long-standing campaigner on mental health and well-being and was the former Co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health. Dean has been campaigning to make Watford a Wellbeing Town with initiatives such as his programme to train a thousand people across Watford in Mental Health First Aid awareness which is being delivered by the Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce.
The announcement coincides with Dean’s re-introduction of his Bill to ensure there is a dedicated Mental Health First Aider in every workplace, trained to spot the signs of someone struggling and to signpost to dedicated support services.
Dean Russell MP for Watford commented:
“I have campaigned on mental health since before being elected which has included my campaign to train a thousand people across Watford in mental health first aid awareness which the Watford and West Herts Chamber of commerce have been delivering.
This announcement is welcome and builds on my and those of other colleagues in lobbying Government to raise awareness of the need for investment into mental health services.
This cash injection into mental health services locally is welcome and aligns with my own campaign for better mental health provision at all levels - including in the workplace. That is why I will be reintroducing my Bill to ensure there is a dedicated Mental Health First Aider in every workplace this week and I hope people across Watford will continue to support me in changing the law to ensure mental health first aid has a parity with physical first aid in the workplace.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“People in mental health crisis deserve compassionate care in a safe and appropriate setting. Too often, they end up in A&E when they should be receiving specialist treatment elsewhere.
“This important funding will make sure they get the help they need, while easing pressures on emergency departments and freeing up staff time – which is a huge priority for the government this winter.”
This builds on existing plans to improve mental health services with an investment of at least £2.3 billion of additional funding a year by 2023-24 to expand and transform mental health services in England so that two million more people will be able to get the mental health support they need.
Every area now has in place 24/7 NHS open access urgent mental health helplines; the helplines are currently taking around 200,000 calls per month, with only 1-2% reported as being directed to 999/A&E. In the community, NHS Mental Health Support Teams are being rolled out in schools and colleges, offering early mental health help to children and young people, we are on target to reach 35% of pupils by the end of this year.
This comes as the government has committed to increase mental health spend to 8.9% of all NHS funding.