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The Prime Minister has announced plans to invest billions of pounds into mental health services across the UK as he talked about the taboo of poor mental health services during a speech at the charity, Family Action in London.
The Government will provide almost one billion pounds to support mental health services in hospitals, provide specialist care for women during and after pregnancy, as well as providing funds to enable round-the-clock treatments and support to communities as a safe and effective alternative to hospital care.
One in four people are expected to develop a mental health problem this year, such as anxiety or depression. While suicide is recognised as the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50.
The announcement forms part of a speech focusing on the Government’s plans to transform people’s life chances and begin their new approach to stopping poverty.
Speaking about the importance of mental health support, Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, commented: “Giving people the right mental health support is one of the most important ways to make sure everyone has the best start in life.
“We are boosting the mental health support available for young people with £1.4 billion over the next five years, putting more mental health professionals in emergency departments and helping new and expectant mums and their babies to be happy and healthy.”
'It's time to stop sweeping mental health issues under the carpet'
The announcement follows recommendations from NHS England’s independent mental health taskforce, which is comprised of a team of mental health professionals and chaired by chief executive of mental health charity, Mind, Paul Farmer.
The taskforce was established as part of the NHS Five Year Forward View plan for the next five. A report is expected be published in the coming weeks to detail a five year mental health strategy for the NHS.
The Prime Minister has said that ‘it is time to stop sweeping mental health issues under the carpet’ and has called for a frank and open discussion on how they can be addressed in future.
His plans include: £290m for investment into mental healthcare for new mums, £247m investment into mental health services in emergency departments and more than £400m towards the provision of round-the-clock treatment and services to communities that is as safe and effective as hospital treatment.
In addition to investment and expanded services to support young people with eating disorders, as anorexia is responsible for more deaths than any other mental health condition.
Furthermore, the Government will announce further plans for investment and the expansion of mental health services in their mental health taskforce report that is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
'Mental illness isn’t contagious'
The Prime Minister said: “Mental illness isn’t contagious. There’s nothing to be frightened of.
“As a country, we need to be far more mature about this. Less hushed tones, less whispering; more frank and open discussion.
“We need to take away that shame, that embarrassment, let people know that they’re not in this alone, that when the clouds descend, they don’t have to suffer silently.
“I want us to be able to say to anyone who is struggling, ‘talk to someone, ask your doctor for help and we will always be there to support you’.”
The Prime Minister’s pledge of Government funding will increase existing commitments to mental health care, already established in the past 12 months, which has seen £150m already invested in supporting young people with eating disorders and £1.25bn for perinatal and young people’s support services.
The newly pledged £290m will help new and expectant mothers, 20 per cent of which develop mental health problems around the time of birth and the more than 30,000 women who require the support of specialist services.
Hospital emergency departments will receive £247m to introduce a mental health service in every emergency department, leading a global effort to ensure the appropriate care is available round-the-clock to those who need it. People with mental health problems are three times more likely to visit A&E than those without. The investment will see the care for those with mental health problems be improved, and generate savings for the hospital by reducing the number of A&E admissions.
Three quarters of mental illnesses begin in adult life
Meanwhile young people up with eating disorders will benefit from expanded services and faster care. Eating disorders if untreated for three to five years can greatly reduce the chance of recovery and increase incidents of self-harm, while anorexia is responsible for more deaths than any other mental health problem.
People experiencing psychosis will experience improved waiting times as the Government will introduce a new standard timeframe for care. Three quarters of mental illnesses begin in adult life and it is estimated that 17,000 people a year experience an episode of psychosis.
The Government establish new waiting time targets to be introduced in April 2016 to see people experiencing psychosis receiving treatment within two weeks.
More than £400m will be spend on crisis home resolution teams to provide round-the-clock treatment to people in their home that is as safe and effective as hospital care.
Chief executive of Mind and independent chair of NHS England’s Taskforce on Mental Health, Paul Farmer, said: “This is a significant moment for mental health and we are pleased to see the Prime Minister giving it the attention it deserves. Mental health is hugely important in any discussion about improving life chances and mental health problems can affect anyone, from mums-to-be preparing for their first child to older people at risk of isolation.
“The Prime Minister rightly recognises some key priorities that have been identified by the mental health taskforce, which will soon be publishing its full report. Children and young people, pregnant women and new mums, and those in crisis urgently need better services and support. But it doesn’t stop there. The taskforce will be setting out the road map for the next five years, a transformational plan that will require a commitment at every level, from Government right through to every local community.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, added: “For both the public and the NHS, improving mental health has rightly now shot up our national ‘to do’ list. Putting mental and physical health on an equal footing is a far reaching idea whose time has now come. A sea change in public attitudes coupled with an increasing range of effective mental health treatments mean that now’s the time to tackle the huge unmet need that affects families and communities across the nation.
“Today’s measures are a critical first step, and when our independent taskforce publishes its final report in a few weeks, the whole NHS will need to mobilise to translate their wider proposals into action.