The prime minister has pledged to invest almost one billion pounds into mental health services, targeting new mums, teenagers with eating disorders and those suffering from psychosis.
The measures, recommended by NHS England’s independent mental health task force, include:
· A £290 million investment into specialist care for mums over the next 5 years. Giving at least 30,000 more women per annum access to specialist mental health care, before and after having their baby. Through perinatal classes, new community perinatal teams and more beds in mother and baby units helping mums with serious mental health problems get the best support and keeping their babies with them.
· The introduction of waiting time targets for the treatment of teenagers with eating disorders in 2017/18. With increasing numbers of patients being seen within one month of being referred, or within a week for urgent cases.
· New waiting time targets for people experiencing psychosis will be in place from April 2016. By 2017 the aim is to ensure that at least half of those experiencing psychosis for the first time are treated within 2 weeks, rising to at least 60% by 2020.
· £247 million for mental health liaison services in hospital emergency departments. Ensuring that specialist staff, with training in mental health, are on hand in A&E to make sure that patients get the right care for them, and are referred for further support if needed.
· An investment of over £400 million to enable 24/7 treatment in communities as a safe and effective alternative to hospital.
Further investment and service expansion will be announced when the mental health task force report is published in the next few weeks.
Launching these new measures, the Prime Minster 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’.”
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind and Independent Chair of NHS England’s Taskforce on Mental Health, 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 task force, 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 task force will be setting out the road map for the next 5 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, said “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 task force publishes its final report in a few weeks, the whole NHS will need to mobilise to translate their wider proposals into action.”
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 5 years, putting more mental health professionals in emergency departments and helping new and expectant mums and their babies to be happy and healthy”.