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British Medical Association news article highlights the benefits of MST
A community-based support service that would have helped survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster has been axed owing to funding pressures leaving the long-term well-being of those affected in jeopardy. Keith Cooper reports
'MST is like a licence for how to drive your family and children in the right way,’ says George Zidane*, a minicab driver, from his armchair in his west London flat.
He’s talking about multisystemic therapy, a support service for young people for what is medically termed ‘conduct disorder’ or, more roughly, anti-social or bad behaviour.
Developed in the USA, then rolled out across Europe, MST keeps adolescents out of care and prison, and prevents exclusion from school, so easing and preventing mental ill health further down the line. But its future is now under threat by NHS cuts.
Mr Zidane and his wife, Linda, credit MST with keeping their family together (see ‘MST taught us how to work together’ below). But much to their dismay – and that of mental health professionals who helped them – it’s become the latest casualty of NHS cutbacks and at a time when it is most needed. And it’s not the only one closed for funding pressures.
Their family had been helped by an MST service provided by CNWL (Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust), which previously served Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea. But in April last year, it closed after its three CCG (clinical commissioning group) funders turned off the tap, despite the three boroughs there agreeing to foot half of the bill.
Its closure couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Although the CCGs couldn’t have foreseen it, months later Grenfell Tower caught fire, killing 72 and leaving hundreds of families homeless and traumatised.