has rejected call for mental health service user “tsar”
by Mike George
government’s national director of mental health has rejected
calls for a service user “tsar”.
is according to the Social Perspectives Network, an organisation
pushing for more “social” interventions in mental health
government's national director for learning disabilities, Rob Greig,
last month appointed Nicola Smith as a new learning disability "tsar”.
Ms Smith is herself disabled.
Now, the Social Perspective Network wants Prof Louis Appleby, the
national director for mental health, to make an equivalent mental
health service user appointment.
a letter to Prof Appleby they argued that the appointment of a mental
health service user tsar would give a "powerful message"
that people who experience mental distress should be listened to
"as equals at all levels of their engagement with the mental
The network’s director Terry Bamford added that such an appointment
would ensure “the voice of service users is heard in major
deliberations about policy and practice.”
However, Prof Appleby wrote back emphasising that there are already
a number of mental health service users working for the Department
of Health, the government's National Institute for Mental Health
and mental health NHS trusts.
"People with learning disabilities
have not previously had the same profile across the department of
health and the NHS so I think the two situations are different,"
argued Prof Appleby.
He said that, in addition, many service user organisations help
shape mental health care around the UK.
Judy Foster and Stewart Hendry, co-chairs of the network, now fear
Prof Appleby has rejected outright the worth of a mental health
service user tsar.
In a second letter to Prof Appleby,
they wrote: “We would urge you to keep open the possibility
rather than reject it as unnecessary."
They accused Prof Appleby of not
appreciating “the symbolic impact” of the appointment
of a mental health service user tsar.
Social Perspectives Network is part-funded by the government's National
Institutue for Mental Health
do you think? Email your comments on the above
article to the editor using the form below. Selected comments will
© 2001-7 Psychminded Limited. All
about this article