Rethink Campaign successes



Read about Rethink's past campaign successes. Rethink has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of people with severe mental illness and carers.

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Cannabis Victory
The aim was to raise awareness of the links between cannabis and mental illness, convince Charles Clarke that further reclassification was wrong and push for a properly funded health education campaign and more research. This campaign delivered 100 per cent of what Rethink asked for in January 2006.

GP Contract Campaign
Rethink submitted evidence to the GP contract review in May 2005 . Two of Rethink's three recommendations were acted on so that most GPs will now provide information on diet, smoking and exercise to people with severe mental illness. Previously, Rethink had uncovered evidence that people with severe mental illness die 10 years younger average from physical health problems, but GPs were not giving out health promotional advice. This new provision will help to ensure that people get the health information they need. Rethink also worked with NIMHE (National Institute for Mental Health in England) to produce 200,000 copies of a leaflet explaining to people with severe mental illness the regular health checks that GPs are now offering.

Incapacity Benefit Campaign
As part of its plans to reform Incapacity Benefit, the Government is redesigning the assessment used to decide whether people are entitled to the new benefit or not. The Department of Work and Pensions originally convened a group of medical and occupational health experts to work on this - representatives of people with mental illness were confined to a consultative group. After media and parliamentary work by Rethink, DWP agreed to involve mental health charities fully and to widen the scope of the review.

Mental Health Cuts Campaign
After writing to Rosie Winterton and Louis Appleby and commencing a media campaign about worrying cuts to mental health spending budgets across the country, Rosie Winterton, Minister of State for Health, announced she was to contact all Strategic Health Authorities asking them to report their financial situations. Rethink is still monitoring the situation and since then more worrying cuts and service closures have been reported.

Anti-discrimination Campaign
We have been at the forefront of targeting specific groups of the population with tailor made anti-discrimination activities. We have already worked with schoolchildren, policemen and women, prison officers and currently trainee doctors. We also run a large-scale campaign in Norwich in March 2006 for a month aimed at shifting people's attitudes toward severe mental illness. One element of this was a controversial media stunt which involved a statue of Winston Churchill in a straitjacket symbolising the way that people with mental illness are stigmatised in society. The evaluation of this campaign will form the basis for an ongoing campaign challenging central government to provide a fully funded, high profile national anti-discrimination campaign. Such campaigns exist in other areas such as anti-smoking, heart disease and cancer, mental health campaigns of this kind have proven highly successful in other countries such as Scotland and New Zealand - we want to build up the case for demanding one for England.

Mental Health Bill Campaign
As a core member of the Mental Health Alliance (Rethink's Director of Public Affairs is also the chairman of the Alliance), Rethink has been campaigning for a better Mental Health Bill to ensure people with mental health problems are treated fairly and appropriately. The Government announced in March 2006 that it is going to drop the idea of the draft Bill which it has been planning since 1997. This is a great victory for Rethink and the Mental Health Alliance who have been campaigning to stop this Bill for 8 years. However, the Government now says that it is planning to amend the 1983 Act and Rethink is very concerned that the government has ruled out formal consultation over its proposals. In March 2005, following Rethink and the MHA's recommendations in almost all areas, the pre-legislative scrutiny committee's chair, Lord Carlisle of Berriew, concluded that the 2004 Bill was 'fundamentally flawed'.

Forgotten Generation Campaign
Rethink launched a campaign to highlight the 50'000 people with mental illness whose condition is stable, but who have a very poor quality of life, are likely to be socially excluded, have very poor physical health, and little or no contact with mental health services. Rethink's report commanded substantial media coverage and interest from policy makers and practitioners. It was quoted in numerous policy documents, including the Social Exclusion Unit's report 'Social Exclusion and Mental Illness.' NIMHE (National Institute for Mental Health in England) West Midlands funded a conference based on the campaign.

Party Conferences 2005
Rethink steps up its political lobbying every year at the three main autumn political party conferences. In 2005, we joined the 'Health Hotel' for the second year, unique partnership bringing together 36 organisinations which puts health at the top of the party conference agenda. We held a joint fringe meeting at each conference with the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (SCMH), entitled Mental Health in the Mainstream which discussedhow to promote better mental health in society, how to tackle stigma and discrimination and how to offer better services in primary care for people in the early stages of mental distress. Panelists included Baroness Barker, Tim Loughton MP and Rosie WInterton MP, Minister of State for Health Services and Rethink service users. The events were well attended and we made good contacts, including MP's, local councillors, service users and carers.

We were also involved with the Mental Health Alliance events and were delighted that Lord Carter, a member of the Scrutiny Committee on the 2004 draft Mental Health Bill, spoke at our event in Brighton.

2005 General Election
Rethink was active in the lead-up to the election on May 5th. We produced a Manifesto for Mental Health, which allowed local activists to raise the most pertinent mental health issues with prospective parliamentary candidates who came door-knocking, or during hustings meetings. We also contacted individual candidates via an e-mail campaign that was broadcast to all those that had addresses. We asked candidates to sign up to a pledge so that, if elected as an MP, they would do all they could to keep mental health in the mainstream of health reforms. 330 candidates signed up to the pledge (the third most pledges of any charity campaign in the country).

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