Press Release

The Mental Health – Time for Action Foundation supports the call for a full Statutory Public Inquiry into the death of 74 patients under Essex Mental Health Services.

We will have a presence outside Downing Street, Wednesday 7 July at 1 pm, handing out educational materials.

Inpatient mental health wards during COVID-19 – The Children’s Commissioners Report.

Our press release:

The Mental Health – Time for Action Foundation fully supports the call by Melanie Leahy and the other 74 Essex families (and growing) calling for a Statutory Public Inquiry into Essex Mental Health Services.

Despite continuous attempts over a number of years, Melanie and other families have been unable to access any evidence uncovered by Essex Police during their corporate manslaughter investigation and continue to be refused documents held by the trust itself.

Until services are open and honest about failings, staff are interviewed under oath and are held fully accountable and services adhere to contractual Duty of Candour, we will continue to witness unexplained deaths of the most vulnerable in society.

Rachel Bannister

Chair MHTFA, on behalf of the trustees

5th July 2021

Rachel Bannister with her daughter

‘Everyone else can hug their parents, but I can’t.’

In the last few weeks, research findings have increasingly shown that COVID-19 has not only been a physical health crisis like no other, but also a mental health crisis of pandemic proportions. COVID-19, the stresses associated with it, and the lockdown period have been a challenging time for many people.

The Mental Health – Time for Action Foundation is grateful to Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England, for the Briefing Note, released 21st October 2020, highlighting the experience of children living in mental health wards and the impact COVID-19 has had on them.

Of concern to the Mental Health – Time for Action Foundation is the recurring themes that go beyond COVID-19. It is still poignant to acknowledge the distances children can be placed when seeking mental health treatment, far from loved ones. Again, the Briefing is concerned ‘too many’ are spending months if not years in mental health settings due to their not being a safe place for them to move onto. Finally, as has been seen across health and social care, COVID-19 restrictions and public scrutiny has highlighted significant gaps in the quality and range of care across the country – another north/south national divide.

During lockdown, 71% of wards, and 94% of independent providers stopped visits. 67% fewer advocates attended wards, reducing the ability of children to raise concerns. 62% of wards had no advocates visiting at all during lockdown. Finally, 38% of wards reported delays in discharge due to lack of community support. In this way, isolating loved ones from care and support misjudged the need we have to stay connected to be healthy.

The Mental Health – Time for Action Foundation is committed to raising awareness of the impact of under-funding on lifelong mental health. We believe these children are being let down by receiving levels of care that are ‘Far Less than they deserve’ (Children’s Commissioner, 2020). These issues have only been further highlighted by the pandemic.

We welcome the Children’s Commissioner’s call for more early intervention mental health services. We urge the government to commit to valuing children’s rights to family life and equitable access to the quality mental health care services.

‘If CAMHS had helped back then, none of us would be here.’