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Mental Health Services

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in achieving race equality in the local commissioning of mental health services. (240358)

In 2005 the Department launched ‘Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care’ (DRE). DRE is a five year action plan designed to improve black and minority ethnic (BME) communities' experience of mental health services, and to address the apparent inequalities in the incidence of severe mental illness between ethnic groups in England. There has been significant progress.

For example, the DRE programme has helped to develop replicable good practice around tailored pathways of care for BME service users; new training in race equality for mental health staff has been tested successfully and made available nationally; pilot projects of the programme improving access to psychological therapies have demonstrated that BME communities can have equal access to, and equal outcomes from, the new services; and primary care trusts have so far recruited over 400 new community development workers, whose role is to build links between local BME communities and mental health services and to help communities play a part in planning and providing those services.

We do, though, believe that the national health service still must do more to meet the needs of increasingly diverse local populations, particularly by delivering early and equitable access to effective community-based interventions. These issues will stay a priority for services for the duration of the DRE programme and beyond.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent steps he has taken to improve primary care services for people with mental health problems. (240709)

We are investing significantly in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (IAPT), with annual funding rising to £173 million to train 3,600 extra therapists and treat 900,000 more people by 2011. Investment in IAPT will help to add to existing provision of psychological therapies, increase capacity, reduce waiting times and drive up quality standards. Primary care trusts will be able to offer patients a fully integrated care pathway for mental health services, from mild to moderate depression or anxiety disorders to acute mental health problems.