Measures part of ‘overhaul of society’s approach to mental illness’

Extra funding to help local authorities strengthen and deliver local suicide prevention plans, updated professional standards for England’s social workers to increase their knowledge and skills when helping those with mental health issues, and training for all new teachers on spotting the signs of mental ill health, were among ‘a raft of prevention measures’ unveiled by Prime Minister, Theresa May, on 17 June.

Downing Street said the measures – ‘part of an overhaul of society’s approach to mental illness’ – would ‘make sure people have the confidence and skills they need to identify mental health issues before they become critical, particularly in young people’.

Other measures announced included:

  • Updated statutory guidance to make clear schools’ responsibilities to protect children’s mental wellbeing.
  • All 1.2 million NHS staff encouraged to take suicide prevention training from the Zero Suicide Alliance.
  • Support for school mental health leads to help children struggling with self-harm and risk of suicide
  • Access to ‘world-class teaching and training materials’ for all teachers, to meet the new requirements for mental health education for all primary/ secondary pupils

Theresa May – pictured visiting Southfield Academy in South-West London – said: “We should never accept a rise in mental health problems as inevitable. It’s time to rethink how we tackle this issue, which is why I believe the next great revolution in mental health should be in prevention.”

Further plans ‘to drive a step-change in public awareness around looking after one’s mental health’ include a national awareness campaign, ‘Every Mind Matters’, launching this October, OPTIONAL CUT via which, from 2020, parents will get access to targeted advice on dealing with issues such as stress, online bullying, and self-harm. The Government will also launch a ‘breathing space’ scheme to provide respite from debt collection while people seek support to help prevent the onset of mental health problems.

The Prime Minister also announced:

  • £1 mi in funding for the Office of Students for a competition ‘to find innovative new ways’ to support mental health at universities and colleges’.
  • Research following the government’s Children in Need review to build new evidence on supporting children who have faced adversity, abuse, and neglect.
  • Greater transparency in how money is spent on mental health services, with a commitment to independent audits to ensure funding committed under the NHS Long-Term plan ‘reaches the frontline’.
  • Publication of a White Paper before the year-end in response to Sir Simon Wessely’s review of the Mental Health Act, ‘setting out the steps taken to tackle unequal treatment faced by ethnic minority groups’.