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Charity joins EDP campaign as cuts loom in mental health and adult social care

Mark Harrison, chairman of disability charity Equal Lives. Photo : Steve Adams

Mark Harrison, chairman of disability charity Equal Lives. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

As providers of mental health services grapple with severe savings targets, one Norfolk organisation says it fears the impact cuts will have on isolated and disabled people.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Equal Lives, said the region’s mental health trust and Norfolk County Council should work more with his organisation and the groups of patients within it, to find solutions with savings that do not adversely affect living standards for the most vulnerable in our society.

Equal Lives, which consists of more than 50 user-led member groups, has pledged to support the EDP’s Mental Health Watch campaign in a bid to raise more awareness of the problems and difficulties many in our county are facing.

Mr Harrison said: “Our mental health trust has got to make £36m worth of savings over the next four years, and our county council is facing £111m worth of cuts during the next three.

“These changes are going to hit the disabled and most vulnerable in our society the hardest.”

He said Equal Lives is seeing an increase in the number of people with mental health problems or disabilities contacting the organisation asking for support.

“As the cuts are made to adult social care, more people will be left on their own in their own home without the chance to get out and take part in activities and organisations,” he said.

“This is going to have a real and profound impact on their mental health.”

He said patients were waiting longer for their mental health assessment after referral from a GP, and warned fewer people are being assessed.

“I have a family member who couldn’t get an assessment and they were arrested by police three times in one week,” Mr Harrison said.

“The person isn’t a criminal; they had mental health problems but he couldn’t get an assessment.

“Norman Lamb MP came out last week and said he had to pay for his son’s mental health treatment privately, but what happens to those people who don’t have that money?”

He said Equal Lives and its patient groups represented the “grassroots” and added the service users could provide valuable expertise to the decision makers as they have the most experience of the difficulties within mental health.

For more information on Equal Lives visit https://equallives.org.uk/ or call 01508 491210.

Later in our campaign the EDP will examine which mental health services are at risk from cuts in our area over the next few years.

Have you got a mental health story or do you want to help raise awareness for our campaign? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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