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May: We must transform mental health treatment in the UK

The prime minister will announce her pledge to overhaul mental health training and treatments.

Theresa May is expected to give greater help for schools and businesses in dealing with the “hidden injustice” of mental health.

In a speech to the Charity Commission today, 9 January, May will announce new training for teachers, improved online self-checking facilities, and a review of services for children and young people.

One of the new measures expected to be announced is an investment of £15m for community mental health services, encouraging a change in focus from GP and A&E to improved community care.

Mental health has been "dangerously disregarded" as secondary to physical health, May will say, and she hopes to "transform" attitudes to such problems.

Her proposals differ from David Cameron’s “better society” plan, which put the burden of mental health services on the voluntary sector.

One in four people has a mental health disorder and young people are disproportionately affected. The annual cost to the Government is £105bn.

New measures:

  • Every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training
  • Review of children and adolescent services led by the CQC
  • Commission report on workplace support by mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Mind chief executive Paul Farmer
  • Employers and organisations to be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off
  • £15m towards linking to community care, with less emphasis on GPs and A&E
  • Improve online services to allow symptom checks before face-to-face appointments
  • Review of the "health debt form", under which patients are charged up to £300 by a GP for documentation to prove they have mental health issues

Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Kate Mulley, said: “While we welcome the promising announcements of today, we urge the prime minster to ensure the planned thematic review will address the mental health needs of our country’s 70,000 children in care.

“Many looked after children endure trauma and abuse in their lives before care. Experiences of loss and separation can have a long-lasting impact on children’s emotional wellbeing and evidence shows that looked after children are almost five times more likely than the general population to suffer from poor mental health.

“Yet these children can come up against barriers to receiving the help they need. Children in care need different Government departments to work together to identify and respond to their mental health needs. The commitment to better identify their mental health needs must also be tied with stronger requirements on health professionals to play a much more effective role."