Nation must focus on mental health, says PM

Mental-health-at-work
Each year one in four UK residents experience a mental health problem.

Today Cameron will announce that tens of thousands of people with mental health conditions will be supported to find or return to work as part of a massive new drive to transform treatment in England.

Almost three in every five people with mental health conditions are currently unable to work, despite evidence showing employment can be a crucial part of treatment.

To end this disparity, the Prime Minister is announcing that action will be taken across government, the NHS and private companies to treat potentially debilitating mental health conditions early on through improved access to care and to help those already struggling with mental health issues to find or return to work.

As part of this approach he today met with business leaders including the CEOs of Royal Mail, Barclays and BT to highlight the need for a shift in attitude to people with mental health conditions in the workplace and to agree new workplace standards.

An extra £1 billion a year will be given to the NHS to help put mental and physical health on equal footing.

The new approach is based on recommendations from the Mental Health Taskforce – an expert panel chaired by Mind CEO Paul Farmer – which set out a comprehensive plan to tackle the problem which affects millions of people in England and accounts for a quarter of all ill health – higher than heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.

Crucially the Taskforce recognised clear links between work and good mental health and the need for more people to be able to access treatment early on so they can avoid long-term unemployment. The report called for employment for people with mental health conditions to be recognised as a health outcome. Their comments came as latest figures showed only 43 percent of people with mental health conditions are in employment compared to almost four fifths of the general population and two thirds of people with other health conditions.

To fully embed the link between employment and mental health, the government will work with the NHS to ensure access to talking therapies for people suffering from conditions like anxiety or depression will be almost doubled so that 800,000 people get the support they need thanks to a £308 million investment.

29,000 more people with mental health conditions will be helped to find or stay in work thanks to the increase in these therapies and there will be more mental health experts in job centres to embed the link between employment and mental health.

£50 million will be spent to double the reach of programmes finding work for people with mental illness – known as Individual Placement and Support Programmes – with evidence showing these programmes save £6,000 per person due to reduced inpatient costs.

Over £50 million is invested to more than double the number of employment advisors, so that they are linked in to every talking therapy service in the country

Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer, who led the Taskforce, said:

“This is a landmark moment for mental health care in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform services and support for people with mental health problems. We are saying to the NHS, to government, to industry, to local leaders and to the public that mental health must be a priority for everyone in England.

We need to prevent problems in the first place, and to respond to people’s mental health problems at the earliest possible opportunity. As part of this, the NHS can and should be a world leader in care which treats people’s minds and bodies equally well.”

Alongside helping people with mental health conditions to find or return to work the government is backing the Taskforce’s recommendations to improve treatment and support for people at all stages of their life:

5,000 new psychological therapists will be trained contributing to 70,000 more children and young people receiving access to high-quality mental health care.

By 2020 intensive home treatment will be available in every part of the country as an alternative to hospital and no acute hospital will be without mental health liaison services in emergency departments and inpatients wards. Currently only a minority of A&E departments have 24/7 liaison mental health services that reach minimum quality standards.

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