The Government has set out actions to improve mental health and wellbeing, the largest cause of disability in the UK which is closely connected with other problems, including poor physical health, education and work prospects.
Prioritising mental health
The government wants public services to reflect the importance of mental health in their planning, putting it on a par with physical health. So it is:
- making better access to mental health services and shorter waiting times a priority for NHS England
- making reducing mental health problems a priority for Public Health England, the new national public health service
- making mental health part of the new national measure of wellbeing, so it’s more likely to be taken into account when government creates policy
- providing £400 million between 2011 and 2015 to give more people access to psychological therapies – including adults with depression, and children and young people
- providing up to £16 million of funding over 4 years for Time to Change, the campaign against mental health stigma and discrimination.
Effectiveness of mental health services
It aims to increase the impact of mental health services by:
- changing how it tracks success in mental health services, so it measures the things that matter most to the people using them
- reviewing health visiting and school nursing services, to check that staff have the right training to identify and help parents, children and young people with mental health problems.
By 2014, it will develop a new online service to provide guidance and training on child mental health for teachers, police, health professionals and other people working with children.
Access to mental health services
There’s evidence that mental health services aren’t meeting the needs of some groups of people. For example only 1 in 6 older people with depression ever discusses it with their GP.
The government is giving local health and wellbeing boards a duty to reduce health inequalities in their area, including in mental health.
Overall, the number of suicides in England has fallen over the past 10 years. But the suicide rate is higher for some groups, including young and middle aged men, people in the care of mental health services and prisoners.
The government has published guidance on preventing suicide to help health professionals, mental health services, police, prisons and others save more lives.
Mental health for veterans
To improve mental health services for former members of the military, it is:
- recruiting more therapists to treat veterans
- making more counselling services for veterans available online
- funding the 24-hour Combat Stress mental health helpline for veterans
- providing training for GPs and other NHS staff on veterans’ mental health needs
Mental health for offenders
The government wants to make sure that offenders’ mental health problems are identified as soon as possible, and that they have access to the same mental health services as everyone else. So it will:
- by 2014, set up a national liaison and diversion service to help identify offenders’ mental health problems earlier and make sure they’re getting the right treatment
- give more offenders with personality disorders access to treatment by making it available in prisons, rather than relying on secure units in hospitals.