90 per cent not granted mental health personal budgets, says charity CEO

Ninety per cent of people with mental health problems are not qualifying for a personal budget, costing more money and often leading to further problems, according to chief executive of CoolTan Arts Michelle Baharier.

The CEO and founder of the mental health and arts charity was speaking at an event at the BFI in London yesterday, where three short films made by volunteers to highlight issues surrounding personalisation were premiered.

The personalisation process is a social care approach within which those who qualify are given a personal budget that they can spend themselves on whatever services they feel can best help their circumstances. It is designed to increase independence and foster a smoother journey towards integrating back into society.

Refusal can affect wellbeing

But although the prevailing opinion at yesterday’s event was that it is a good idea in theory, according to Baharier the reality is that a large majority of sufferers are not being accepted onto the programme.


This means in many cases they can no longer afford to come to CoolTan Arts, which has a day centre in the London borough of Southwark. Baharier emphasised that disrupting the routine attendees enjoy at the day centre – which she insists has a proven record of keeping people well – can severely impact on their wellbeing.

"Ninety per cent of people don't qualify for a budget," Baharier told the audience. “Here at CoolTan Arts we had something like 46 people on a service level agreement but only 15 of them have now been deemed eligible to have a personal budget.

“We then discovered that 18 people have gone back into hospital as a result. We’ve had one person go missing who is now on the missing person’s register, and we had four people very sadly commit suicide.”

Failing to qualify results in costs

Baharier went on to say that refusing so many people personal budgets ends up costing local authorities more money.

“If somebody is suicidal and goes into hospital, just to have a nurse for 24 hours costs around £1,500,” she explained. “The hospital bed costs £500, the assessment is nearly £650. Yet to come to CoolTan Arts for an entire year costs around £3,000 – to keep someone well, out of hospital and sane.

“In theory, personalisation is supposed to be a choice – you opt in. But that’s not happening at all, you have to have a personal budget or you have nothing. It’s like taking the wheelchair away from the wheelchair user.”

Further themes which emerged from the case-study animations and documentary interviews with service users included that the personalisation form, at 30-plus pages, was too long and created a bureaucratic obstacle, and that service users often have to portray themselves as a serious suicide risk in order to be given help.

Only one of the three films is available to view online at the moment, on YouTube here.

This article was taken from Civil Society – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/finance/news/content/14773