Anneliese supporting campaigners pushing for a mental health café in Oxford

GettyImages-538290541_super.jpg

There are lots of pressures on mental health services here in Oxford - and increasing need combined with Government cuts means that many people with mental health problems feel isolated in the widening gaps between contacts with services.  This in turn can lead to worsening mental health and more demand for those services.

One way of helping deal with this pressure is having a mental health cafe drop in, as suggested by Rethink in Oxford and many local people who have experienced mental health difficulties.  This is not a substitute for restoring those services affecting by cuts, but it has had encouraging success already in Aldershot and nearby towns, where "Safe Haven" cafes run by the NHS provide talking space with access to trained clinicians.

The result has been a reduction of around a third in acute admissions at the local psychiatric hospital.  At their best projects such as the Aldershot drop-in cafes can really help the most needy patients by bringing them together with the full range of services they need in a relaxed environment.

At the moment all these services are fully within the NHS and thus able to co-ordinate effectively.  It would be very sad if the constant NHS reorgansations were to threaten this, as some campigners fear.  It is crucial to be able to set up new and innovative public aserv ices without threatening the public nature of the provision.

It is good to see that the experience of the Aldershot project is now getting some national press coverage, and I hope that this example and the support it is getting will now be heard here in Oxford as well.