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£1 billion investment in mental health

Tagged In:  Mental Health, NHS

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced almost £1 billion of investment in mental health services as part of a new strategy to transform people's life chances.

The raft of new initiatives, which includes support for new mothers and teenagers, has been prompted by recommendations from NHS England's independent mental health taskforce, chaired by Mind CEO Paul Farmer. In an October blog post, we reported on the establishment of the taskforce and its public engagement survey, which attracted over 20,000 respondents.

The PM used a keynote speech at the charity Family Action to announce the new investment, pointing out that the number of people who suffer from poor mental health is larger than people might think and promising to get the 'right treatment and support to those who are in crisis'. He said that one in five new mothers develop mental health problems around the time of the birth of their child, while suicide has become the leading cause of death for men under 50.

The new spending plans include £290 million to provide specialist care to mums before and after they have their babies, new waiting time targets for teenagers with eating disorders and people experiencing psychosis, almost £250 million for mental health services in hospital emergency departments, and over £400 million to enable 24/7 mental health treatment in the community, relieving pressure on mental health staff in hospitals. You can read the PM's full speech here.

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens described the new measures as a 'critical first step'. "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," he commented.

Positive reaction

Representing psychologists, Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, President of the British Psychological Society, said he was encouraged by the announcements: "I welcome the emphasis on teenagers and young people, young mothers, maximising psychological healthcare provision through extending liaison psychological health services in A&E departments and a huge amount of funding for developing crisis resolution and home treatment centres as an alternative to hospital. More particularly, I am heartened and encouraged that the prime minister has seized this opportunity to speak out about the necessity of ridding this country of the stigma surrounding mental health problems."

Commenting on the funding to help new mothers suffering pre or post-natal depression, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, commented, "Suicide in anyone is a tragedy, but the impact on a new family is probably as bad as it gets, so extending quality mental health to all, and not just some, of those new mothers with serious depression or psychosis is clearly the right thing to do."

Meanwhile in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that an additional £54 million will be made available to improve access to psychological therapies for all ages, including for children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). The aim is to offer treatment to 10,000 more patients in the first year, an increase of around 25%, rising to 20,000 by 2019/20.

With one in four people now expected to develop some form of mental health problem, the new spending plans will no doubt be welcomed by the many committed and hardworking NHS mental health staff, including psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health nurses, who are facing unprecedented demand for their services. These new spending initiatives build on previous government funding commitments for mental health over the last year, including £150 million for young people with eating disorders and £1.25 billion for perinatal and children and young people's mental health.

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