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May Promises New Measures to Support Mental Health

Delivering the annual Charity Commission lecture on 9th January 2017, the Prime Minister Theresa May has promised new funding, reforms to the health service and actions to tackle the stigma of mental health. May has announced a comprehensive package of measures to transform mental health support in our schools, workplaces and communities.

Last year, Mind chief executive Paul Farmer led the Mental Health Taskforce and warned that the mental health services are marginalised in the National Health Service (NHS), leaving patients unable to access the care they need. In response to this, the government guaranteed an extra £1bn in funding, but an NHS Providers investigation found that almost two-thirds of mental health trusts leaders suppose that CCGs will divert this funding towards acute care.

Here are list of some measures announced by Mrs May in the Charity Commission lecture: 

  • Every Secondary School will be offered Mental Health first aid training
  • An additional training will be given to employers and organizations to support staff who need to take time off
  • Online services will be expanded to allow symptom checks before getting a face-to-face appointment
  • Extra focus on community care, with an additional £15m towards this, and less emphasis on patients visiting GPs and A&E
  • The Care Quality Commission will led the trials on strengthening links between schools and NHS specialist staff, including a review of children and adolescent services across the country.
  • The chief executive of the charity Mind, Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer will be appointed as mental health campaigner to carry out a review on improving support in the workplace. 

For community-led mental health services, May also promised up to £15m additional funding as a substitute for patients going to A&E or their GP.

The prime minister also pledged that the Department of Health, in partnership with the Money and Mental Health, would analysis the ‘mental health debt form’, where GPs can charge up to £300 for a form to prove patients have mental health problems.

The government will also spend £67.7m to improve digital mental health services instead of face-to-face services. The government will also support the NHS commitment to end out-of-area mental health placements for children and young persons.

President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Sir Simon Wessely welcomed the new and bold vision of the prime minister and said NHS have a long way to go before mental health services are on an equal footing with those for physical disorders.

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