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Government to announce new mental health strategy

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More members of the nursing profession can expect to be involved in delivering mental health services under latest government proposals.

The Department of Health is due to publish its new strategy for mental health in England this week, Nursing Times has learnt.

The ‘New Horizons’ strategy aims to take forward the work carried out under the national service framework for mental health, which comes to an end this year.

Nursing Times understands that the new plan will focus on the prevention of mental illness, for example by targeting vulnerable young people who are deemed at risk of developing depression or anxiety conditions.

The government also wants the strategy to ‘mainstream’ mental health, making it an issue for all nurses – not confined to specialists.

‘New Horizons heralds a dynamic new approach to whole population mental health,’ the Department of Health has said. ‘The focus on prevention and maintaining good mental health is particularly relevant today with people leading more hectic lifestyles and going through the economic downturn.’

For example, the strategy is expected to promote services that are not traditionally considered to fall within the mental health sphere, but which help promote public mental health and well-being and act as preventive measures.

These include school health initiatives that promote self-respect or better relationships, older people’s lunch clubs or inner-city sports projects that promote teamwork, self-respect and physical health.

Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said: ‘We strongly support this new focus on whole population mental health.

‘The final strategy must address the needs of those who experience disproportionately high levels of mental ill health including older people, those living in poverty and people from black and minority ethnic communities,’ he added.

The development of the strategy, led by care minister Phil Hope and national director for mental health Professor Louis Appleby, began in April with a series of public ‘listening events’.

A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed that the New Horizons document would be published ‘shortly’.

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