April 13, 2008 12:00 PM

Mental health problems are inadequately assessed and treated said David Howarth MP.

Mr Howarth met with representatives from the Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI) in Cambridge to discuss the problems encountered by their team while working with the homeless.

Rachel Everitt, the project manager for the CRI Cambridge Street Outreach Team, explained that 32% of the people they support suffer from mental illnesses. Some of them cannot be treated by mental health services as they also have a history of substance abuse or are current users.

Mr Howarth commented:

"The CRI Cambridge Street Outreach Team is doing an outstanding job at supporting and guiding the homeless. They work hard to take people off the streets and trying to provide accommodation. The rehabilitation process is long and stressful and their commitment is admirable and impressive.

"It is extraordinary that users who complete a 12-week detox programme are considered successful, regardless of whether they fall off the wagon a month later. That's not right and I'm annoyed that the Government is playing with people's health to be able to publish favourable statistics.

"It is appalling that so many people are not treated for substance abuse. Drug or alcohol use qualifies as a mental health illness and must be treated as such. I have written to the Minister of Health to demand answers on this issue."


Notes to Editors

1) The CRI Cambridge Street Outreach Team is located at the Surgery, 125 Newmarket Road in Cambridge. The team works both reactively and proactively to support homeless people in Cambridge. They try to help them find homes, jobs and fight addictions.

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