Theresa May pledges to help the UK deal with mental health stigma

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Theresa May is pledging to help schools and companies in the UK deal with the hidden injustice and stigma surrounding mental illness.

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, 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”.

The government says that, at any time, one in four people has a mental disorder, with an annual cost of £105bn, and that young people are affected disproportionately.

In the speech to the Charity Commission, Mrs May will announce several measures to aid employees at work.

Employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off

May also announced measures to offer mental health first aid training in schools and to trial strengthening the links between schools and  NHS specialist staff led by the Care Quality Commission.

She will also announce plans to speed up the provision of online mental health services, to put more of a focus on community care and to stop GPs charging patients up to £300 for a ‘health debt form’ certifying their mental illness.

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.

An extra £1bn has been provided to the NHS for mental health services, 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.”

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