Sunday, January 22, 2017
We will reduce stigma around mental illness....
The government is to announce measures aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness, the prime minister has said, claiming social efforts are more important than providing extra money for services.
Theresa May said the importance of support networks for people with mental illness had been brought home to her by the observation that anyone at work with their arm in a plaster would have colleagues talking about their injury, while “if you have a mental health problem, people are more likely to try to avoid you”.
As part of her vision for a “shared society”, May will announce measures on Monday aimed at improving the support available for people with mental health problems. “Money is going into mental health, but it is always wrong for people to assume that the only answer to these issues is about funding,” she said.
May is due to announce that Dennis Stevenson, a former HBOS chairman and a mental health campaigner, will lead a review alongside Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind. They will look at how people with mental health problems can be better supported in the workplace.
She will also announce plans to speed up the provision of digital mental health services, to improve services for schools and to stop GPs charging patients up to £300 for a form certifying their mental illness.
Speaking on Monday, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the speech was “an important part of her vision” as prime minister, with a particular focus on better mental health care for children and young people.
“First of all, we are accepting the reality that what we do at the moment is not good enough,” Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“In every classroom in the country there are probably about three children with a diagnosable mental health condition, and only help [for] about a quarter of them. That is a massive worry.”
Speaking ahead of her speech, May had said extra funding was going into mental health provision, but that addressing perceptions was more important. “We must get over the stigma. We must ensure that we are providing the services for people with mental health [issues].
“Actually if we look at the issue of mental health in this country, I think it’s more about the stigma that still attaches to mental health.”
An extra £1bn was pledged to the NHS for mental health services a year ago by David Cameron, but May said she wanted to tackle the problem in a wider sense. “It’s not a five-minute job. We can’t deal with these issues just overnight. It’s not about one speech, it is about driving reform forward over a period of time and being honest with the public that this does take time to deal with.”
Speaking on Today, Farmer said that giving priority to the issue would help deliver change, although when asked if any new money was being announced, he said: “No there isn’t. But ... when you make it a priority, you give it the priority, you join up the elements of government, you give the people with their own experiences, their own voice, a key role in the development of these policies, you can deliver change.”
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