Transforming how we treat mental health

A call to tackle mental health together, interesting insight in the landscape of mental health by Vanessa Ford Chief executive, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.

This month we celebrate the NHS’s 75th Birthday, with events taking place across the country. mental health trust is proud to have the one of the most diverse workforce in Britain that reflects the people we serve.

We continue to push forward and adapt to meet the needs of new generations, putting patients at the heart of everything we do, celebrating inclusion and working hard to be anti-racist.

In mental healthcare we have seen significant progress over the decades, with positive changes in attitudes to mental health and greater acceptance of mental illness.

The reality is that mental ill health presents a double jeopardy, in terms of experiencing illness, and the impacts of mental health stigma.

This was the resounding conclusion of last year’s Lancet Commission on ending stigma and discrimination in mental health.

The commission also found encouraging social contact between those who do and do not have experience of mental ill health can be key to tackling it sustainably.

I am calling for us all to tackle mental health stigma together.

At South West London and St George’s we are creating a modern mental health estate that brings a vision of integrating communities to break stigma to life.

For too long, large parts of the NHS mental health estate have been isolated from the people they serve, reflecting outdated, stigma-laden attitudes from years gone by.

At Springfield University Hospital in Tooting, this is changing dramatically.

After years in development, on the NHS’s 75th birthday, we are delighted to be opening the new Springfield Village at our community Summer Street Party.

Springfield Village is a mixed-use community made up hundreds of new homes – many affordable – shops, a public square, two state-of-the art mental health facilities, world-class artworks, land for a new school and a 32-acre park.

In all, it is part of a £1billion investment in healthcare and urban development in South-west London .

This new village is symbolic of just how far we have come in breaking down barriers and changing attitudes to mental illness.

This transformation is so important to ensuring our NHS continues to support and reflect the society we serve and provide modern environments for care.

Springfield Village is just the start. Across our estate we are investing to transform our services to deliver care closer to home, expanding our community services, and investing to develop bright, modern facilities at Barnes and Tolworth Hospitals that are fit for the 21st century.

Vanessa Ford
Chief executive, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust