Theresa May's 'shared society' - our response
This morning, Monday 9th January, Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled new plans aimed to remove the ‘hidden injustice’ faced by people living with mental illness in the UK.
In her first major announcements after months of Brexit talks, Mrs May used her speech at the Charity Commission to strengthen her promise to create a ‘shared society’ and transform public attitudes to mental health. A number of the new measures announced look at ways to help people experiencing mental health issues before they reach crisis point whether that’s in school, in the workplace or in the community.
Today’s announcement included:
- A 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 in order to have their debts dissolved.
- Expanding online services to allow symptom checks before getting a face-to-face appointment.
- Every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training, an educational course which teaches people how to understand, identify and help a person who may be developing a mental health problems.
- Trials on strengthening links between schools and NHS specialist staff, including a review of children and adolescent services across the country, led by the Care Quality Commission.
- Appointing mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, to carry out a review on improving support in the workplace.
- Employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off.
- More focus on community care, with an extra £15m towards this, and less emphasis on patients visiting GPs and A&E.
While Rethink Mental Illness is cautiously optimistic about today’s announcements, it is important that these new initiatives, plus already existing commitments, filter through to our supporters, their loved ones and their carers.
Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness said:
“We have seen what can be done when commitments are accompanied by practical action, such as the successful reduction in the number of people in a mental health crisis ending up in police cells. Sometimes that’s about money and sometimes it’s about the machinery to drive change. However, despite previous promising rhetoric, there is still a dearth of good quality, local services for people with mental health problems. Commissioners should be listening, and acting on these proposed reforms so that what happens on the frontline more closely resembles commitment at the top.”
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change said:
"We hope the Prime Minister’s focus on mental health will lead to more action to improve support for people living with mental health problems in the workplace, in schools and in every community.“Our supporters, communities, schools and employers are working with us to drive forward positive change in people’s attitudes and behaviour towards those of us with mental health problems. But this needs to become embedded and we want to see a more systematic approach across all communities, schools and workplaces to end generations of shame, isolation and exclusion. Our vision is that the next generation treats mental health issues no less favourably than physical health issues and that discrimination still plaguing people’s lives will be consigned to history.”