www.mhchoice.org.uk is the new website launched to give online support to people with mental health problems, in accordance with the document 'Our Choices in Mental Health', the new national framework for greater choice of services and treatments at a local level.
The Department of Health (DH) in an attempt to eradicate mental illness emerged with these measures. The report, Our Choices in Mental Health, published on Monday, was drafted in consultation with users and people concerned about them.
A spokesperson from DH said: 'Patients should know that they now have the powers to choose their own path through services and keep control over their lives. They have the preferences to choose how, when, where or what treatments they receive.
'The website has been designed to offer as much practical support as possible to those patients who need it and summarise the changes launched today in the Our Choices in Mental Health document. It provides advice and information for them so they can take control of their own illness, in conjunction with their carers and GPs.'
Health minister Rosie Winterton launched the document.
She said: 'We want patients to be able to choose how, when and where to access help. We want them to be able to choose the treatment that best suits their needs and to access the support they need to keep or regain their independence. The guidance we are publishing today and our wider programme of work to provide greater choice will help to change that situation and really empower service users.'
Mental health charity Mind appreciated the effort.
'We welcome the document and the website and hope to see mental health patients using the new found power they have received to ensure they get the maximum patient care that they should expect from those who help them.
'Mental health problems can affect anyone, rich or poor, young or old, shattering the lives of those affected and the lives of the people close to them - we hope that patients and their nearest and dearest take control of their futures and use the website to ensure they make the most of this choice option.'
Laurie Bryant, an expert on service improvement and a service user working in National Institute for Mental Health in England, said: 'Choice listens to me, involves me, responds to me, values me and supports me on my road to recovery. If we are serious about putting users at the heart of modern mental health services, providing choice is essential.'
However, there are some concerns regarding the cuts affecting several mental health trusts.
A Rethink spokeswoman says: 'For too long, mental health services have been run along the lines of fear and risk; people with mental health conditions should be given choice about their treatment like any other person with a health condition.
'However, Rethink questions when the words of the report will become a reality. It is ironic that the government is talking about choice within mental health but is planning to bring in mental health law that will give people less choice and mean that decisions are taken for them without their consent. Similarly, people can't choose treatments and services that are not available. Cuts to mental health budgets have reduced people's choices, and the very basics of what should be available according to NICE guidelines aren't available in many areas. A principle of choice is good news, but we need reality.'