Government pledges mental health care “revolution”

11 Jan 16

Government ministers and NHS England have today pledged a “revolution” in mental health treatment in England, with a funding boost of nearly £1bn set to be invested in improvements both in hospitals and communities.

The spending, which was revealed by David Cameron today as part of the government’s new anti-poverty strategy, will include nearly £250m for mental health services in hospital emergency departments and £400m to improve community provision.

With 1 in 4 people expected to develop a problem such as a form of depression or anxiety this year alone, Cameron will say that it is time to stop sweeping mental health issues under the carpet.

People with mental health problems are 3 times more likely to turn up at A&E than those without, but not every hospital in the country has the services needed to support them, Cameron will say. The additional funding will allow every hospital in England to have specialist staff with training in mental health to make sure that patients get the right care.

Ministers also committed to improving the waiting time target for people experiencing psychosis. A new target, coming into effect from April 2016, will mean that at least half of those experiencing psychosis for the first time must be treated within two weeks. This will rise to at least 60% by 2020.

Cameron will call for a “more mature” approach to treating mental illness.
“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’.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that giving people the right mental health support is one of the most important ways to make sure everyone has the best start in life, and that the funding boost would put more mental health professionals in emergency departments.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said that for both the public and the NHS, improving mental health had shot up the national ‘to do’ list.

“Putting mental and physical health on an equal footing is a far reaching idea whose time has now come,” he added.

“A sea of 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.”

Cameron’s announcement forms part of his speech today on how the government will improve life chances, which also includes a plan to revamp the worst 100 housing estates in England.

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