Mental health provision is to receive a £400m boost from the government in an attempt to put it on the same level as physical health, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced.
In an attempt to tackle the stigma against mental health, the coalition's new strategy is to treat it with the same priority as physical health for the first time.
The strategy will also address the need for early intervention among children, in order to tackle problems as soon as possible.
Mr Clegg said: "For far too long we've allowed there to be a stigma attached to mental health.
"If you speak to people in the health service they say mental health has been treated as a Cinderella service."
But he conceded that economic stresses including unemployment could lead to rise in such problems.
Speaking ahead of the strategy launch at the Marlborough Family Education Centre in St John's Wood, north west London, he said: "Clearly in times of anxiety and insecurity, when families and individuals have to deal with the problems of personal debt, for example, you get a lot of pressure on individuals, which is why you have to help in the best possible way."
Mr Clegg added that the money for the new mental health strategy will not be taken from other areas of the health budget, but will be extra cash.
The money is designed to give children and young people in England better access to modern psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, if they need them.
And the government plans to work closely with key charities, stakeholders and children to ensure the services meet their needs.
Some £8m a year will be spent on extending access to psychological therapies to children.
Responding to the publication of the strategy, Chief Executive of St Luke's Healthcare, Jacquie Tweedie, said today:
'As the Chief Executive of a provider of low secure and rehabilitation hospital care, as well as enhanced community social and step down care, I particularly welcome the strategy's focus on early intervention, increasing access to talking therapies and combating the stigma that can be attached to mental health – all areas where as a country we need to do better.
'The government is certainly to be commended for giving such prominence to mental health when in an age of austerity every service and sector is asking for protection and assistance.
'There is no one-size-fits-all solution to mental health, so the fact that this is a cross-government is to be welcomed. The challenge now is to join up services on the ground – including the NHS, Local Authorities, the independent and voluntary sectors – to make today's words a reality.'
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I just hope the money goes to where it is needed. I work within an NHS Mental Health Trust and all I am seeing is wards and services closing" - Sarah, South Yorkshire
"I spent a good deal of yesterday reading the DH strategy document and all attached supporting supplements and feel pleased that MH has been given this renewed attention following all the work done on New Horizons which
did not progress after the change of government. Hopefully this will translate into localised priorities in these times of change, uncertainty and QIPP. MH care and need does and will touch us all either directly or indirectly. Having a framework with measurable aims and ideally ring fenced funding should go some way to protecting this crucial healthcare priority. I remain convinced that each of us and especially primary care
nurses having a toolkit of knowledge and skills is essential eg basic assessment questioning aide memoir, risk factor guide and knowledge of how to get specialist MH back up when needed for advice and support - there's a growing amount of stress and distress out there and we need all the help we can get!! This strategy may make that more possible I hope" - George Coxon, Devon
"I really hope this comes to fruition and that the money is used as effectively as possible. I am a mental health worker for a charity and we are in danger of losing our contract this year due to lack of funding. It would be great if our service could continue as we provide much-needed support to individuals with mental health issues who otherwise slip through the net" - Sophie, Bristol
"When you consider that a third of women, and probably a similarly large portion of men, in Britain have taken antidepressants, it is about time we as a society opened up to the reality that despite fantastic advances in material wealth, we have not succeeded in advancing happiness. On the
contrary, studies would suggest that mental stress has increased. It's good to see the government is not entirely committed to economic growth and is prepared to put more money this way" - Richard Tomlin, Nottingham
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