For too long there hasn’t been enough focus on mental healthcare in this country, it has been hidden injustice and surrounded by unacceptable stigma, leaving many to suffer in silence. Changing this goes right to the heart of shared values and making sure we live in a country where everyone is supported.
Today, the Prime Minister announced new plans to transform mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities.
There will be new support for every secondary school. Each school will be offered mental health first aid training to increase awareness around mental health and help to tackle the unacceptable stigma around the issue. To support this initiative, new proposals will outline how mental health services for schools, universities and families can be improved, so that everyone in the community is supported, at every stage of life.
As an anti-bullying campaigner I have seen first hand the long term mental health effects that bullying can have on young people and the charities like Red Balloon Learner Centre Group that have done so much to help. I have been highlighting this issue for some time including my article on Conservative Home. This is a welcome step forward.
These proposals are part of a wide range of measures to improve mental health and make sure no one is left behind. There will be an expert review into how we can improve mental wellbeing in the workplace so employees receive more care. There will be more support in the community so everyone in need can access the best support for their needs, more online services will be provided and the system will be made fairer for people suffering from mental health problems.
This is an opportunity to make sure we are providing attention and treatment for those deserving of compassion and help, striving to improve mental wellbeing and ensure that everyone is supported.
The plans that the Prime Minister announced includes:
New support for schools – to support children and young people and help to tackle mental illness early. Every secondary school in the country will be offered mental health first aid training and build stronger links with local NHS mental health staff. To support this, there will also be a major thematic review of children and adolescent mental health services across the country, which will be led by the Care Quality Commission, to identify priority areas. A new green paper on children and young people’s mental health to set out plans to transform services in schools, universities and for families.
New partnerships with employers – to improve mental health support in the workplace. Lord Dennis Stevenson, the long-time campaigner for greater understanding and treatment of mental illness, and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce will lead a review on how best to ensure employees with mental health problems are enabled to thrive in the workplace and perform at their best.
Further alternatives to hospital treatments – to support people in the community and recognise that seeing a GP or going to A&E will not be the right intervention for everyone. We will build on our £15 million investment to provide and promote new models of community-based care such as crisis cafes and community clinics. The initial £15 million investment led to 88 new places of safety being created and we will build on this success
Investing in and expanding digital mental health services – rapidly expanding mental health treatment. We will speed up the delivery of a £67.7 million digital mental health package so that those worried about stress, anxiety or more serious issues can go online, check their symptoms and if needed, access digital therapy immediately rather than waiting weeks for a face-to-face appointment. Further follow up face-to-face sessions will be offered as necessary.
Introducing new ways to right the injustices people with mental health problems face – making the system fairer. Despite known links between debt and mental health, currently hundreds of mental health patients are charged up to £300 by their GP for a form to prove they have mental health issues. To end this unfair practice the Department for Health will undertake a formal review of the mental health debt form, working with Money and Mental Health. We will also support NHS England’s commitment to eliminate inappropriate placements to inpatient beds for children and young people by 2021.
Spending more to help people with mental health conditions. In the last Parliament there was a record of £11.7 billion investment in mental health services. In the Spending Review we committed an additional £600 million in mental health to ensure access to talking therapies, perinatal mental health services and crisis care.
Helping millions more people get psychological treatment and recover. The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme – backed by £400 million – has treated over 2.6 million people, and over 1.5 million have completed that treatment. Over 1 million people have reached recovery. The total number of people helped in the last Parliament from talking therapies was 3 million, compared to just 226,000 people helped in the Parliament before that—a thirteenfold increase.
Supporting new and expectant mums and their babies to be happy and healthy. We are investing £290 million to ensure at least 30,000 more women each year will have access to mental healthcare. Women will have access to perinatal classes, new community perinatal teams, more beds in mother and baby units and improved mental health support.
Introducing waiting time standards so people get treatment for mental health conditions sooner. We have introduced the first ever access and waiting standards for mental health services and those standards are being met. We have introduced the first-ever waiting time for teenagers with eating disorders, from 2017/2018 they will be seen within a month of referral or within a week for urgent cases.