Press release

Prime Minister pledges a revolution in mental health treatment

The Prime Minister will announce almost a billion pounds of investment to enhance mental health services across the country.

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  • £290 million to provide specialist care to mums before and after having their babies
  • first ever waiting time targets to be introduced for teenagers with eating disorders and people experiencing psychosis
  • nearly £250 million for mental health services in hospital emergency departments
  • over £400 million to enable 24/7 treatment in communities as safe and effective alternative to hospital

Almost a billion pounds of investment, targeted support for new mums and the first ever waiting time targets for teenagers with eating disorders, will all be announced by the Prime Minister today as he uses a keynote speech to take on the taboo of poor mental health and transform services across the country.

The announcements will come as part of a speech focused on the government’s plans to transform people’s life chances and begin a new approach to put a stop to poverty.

They have also been recommended by NHS England’s independent mental health taskforce – comprised of experts, chaired by Mind CEO Paul Farmer and set up as part of the NHS plan for the next 5 years. The report, to be published in the coming weeks, will also suggest a 5 year mental health strategy for the NHS.

With 1 in 4 expected to develop a problem such as a form of depression or anxiety this year alone, and suicide now the leading cause of death for men under 50, the Prime Minister will say that it is time to stop sweeping mental health issues under the carpet and will call for a frank and open discussion on how we can tackle the issue.

His plans will include:

  • £290 million of new investment over the next 5 years to provide mental healthcare for new mums
  • £247 million to invest in liaison mental health services in emergency departments
  • over £400 million to enable 24/7 treatment in communities as a safe and effective alternative to hospital
  • expanded services to help teenagers with eating disorders – as anorexia kills more than any other mental health condition

Further investment and service expansions will be announced when the mental health taskforce report is published in the next few weeks.

Today’s pledge builds on previous government funding commitments for mental health over the last 12 months, including £150 million for young people with eating disorders and £1.25 billion for perinatal and children and young people’s mental health – an unprecedented investment so that professionals can intervene earlier and stop problems escalating.

The measures announced today include:

£290 million to help new and expectant mums who have poor mental health

One in 5 new mothers develop a mental health problem around the time of the birth of their child and some 30,000 more women need specialist services. If untreated this can turn into a lifelong illness, proven to increase the likelihood of poor outcomes to the mother or new baby.

That is why the government is today announcing a £290 million investment in the years to 2020 which will mean that at least 30,000 more women each year will have access to specialist mental healthcare before and after having their baby. For example, through perinatal classes, new community perinatal teams and more beds in mother and baby units, mums with serious mental health problems can get the best support and keep their babies with them.

£247 million to place mental health services in every hospital emergency department

People with mental health problems are 3 times more likely to turn up at A&E than those without. Yet not every hospital in the country has the services needed to support them. Every hospital in the country should have liaison mental health services, which will mean specialist staff, with training in mental health, will be on hand to make sure that patients get the right care for them, and are referred for further support if needed.

Today, the Prime Minister will announce £247 million will be deployed over the next 5 years to make sure that every emergency department has mental health support and, as a global leading effort, will make sure that these services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in at least half of England’s acute hospitals by 2020. This new money will not only improve the care of those with mental illness in A&E but will also generate important savings for these hospitals – through fewer admissions and reduced lengths of stay, for example.

Faster care and expanded services for teenagers with eating disorders

We know that eating disorders are most likely to affect those aged between 14 and 25 and, if they go untreated for more than 3 to 5 years, the chances of recovery are greatly reduced, while incidents of self-harm increase. We also know that anorexia kills more than any other mental health illness.

As investment in new services expands access to care, teenagers suffering from eating disorders like anorexia will get help much more quickly, and from 2017/2018 a new waiting time measure will track the increasing number of patients being seen within a month of being referred, or within a week for urgent cases.

Improved waiting time target for people experiencing psychosis

About 75% of mental illness in adult life begins before the age of 18 and it is estimated that 17,000 people a year experience a first episode of psychosis. While care across the country is improving until now, there have been no national standards setting out a clear timeframe for care.

Today, the Prime Minister will set out a new waiting time target – to be in place in April 2016 – so that from next year at least half of those experiencing psychosis for the first time must be treated within 2 weeks, rising to at least 60% by 2020.

Over £400 million for crisis home resolution teams to deliver 24/7 treatment in communities and homes as a safe and effective alternative to hospitals

Crisis resolution and home treatment teams have been introduced throughout England as part of a transformation of the community mental healthcare system. They aim to assess all patients being considered for acute hospital admission, to offer intensive home treatment rather than hospital admission if feasible, and to facilitate early discharge from hospital. Key features include 24-hour availability and intensive contact in the community, with visits twice daily if needed.

The new investment in this integrated, multidisciplinary approach will ensure more complete coverage around the country.

The Prime Minister is expected to say:

Mental illness isn’t contagious. There’s nothing to be frightened of.

As a country, we need to be far more mature about this. Less hushed tones, less whispering; more frank and open discussion.

We need to take away that shame, that embarrassment, let people know that they’re not in this alone, that when the clouds descend, they don’t have to suffer silently.

I want us to be able to say to anyone who is struggling, ‘talk to someone, ask your doctor for help and we will always be there to support you’.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind and Independent Chair of NHS England’s Taskforce on Mental Health, said:

This is a significant moment for mental health and we are pleased to see the Prime Minister giving it the attention it deserves. Mental health is hugely important in any discussion about improving life chances and mental health problems can affect anyone, from mums-to-be preparing for their first child to older people at risk of isolation.

The Prime Minister rightly recognises some key priorities that have been identified by the mental health taskforce, which will soon be publishing its full report. Children and young people, pregnant women and new mums, and those in crisis urgently need better services and support. But it doesn’t stop there. The taskforce will be setting out the road map for the next 5 years, a transformational plan that will require a commitment at every level, from government right through to every local community.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said:

For both the public and the NHS, improving mental health has rightly now shot up our national ‘to do’ list. Putting mental and physical health on an equal footing is a far reaching idea whose time has now come. A sea change in public attitudes coupled with an increasing range of effective mental health treatments mean that now’s the time to tackle the huge unmet need that affects families and communities across the nation.

Today’s measures are a critical first step, and when our independent taskforce publishes its final report in a few weeks, the whole NHS will need to mobilise to translate their wider proposals into action.

Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said:

Giving people the right mental health support is one of the most important ways to make sure everyone has the best start in life.

We are boosting the mental health support available for young people with £1.4 billion over the next 5 years, putting more mental health professionals in emergency departments and helping new and expectant mums and their babies to be happy and healthy.

Notes to editors

Today’s announcements will be made as part of a wide ranging speech delivered by the Prime Minister today on securing better opportunities for the most vulnerable in society and looking at new ways of tackling poverty. This will include announcements on strengthening families, tackling addiction, housing, education and discrimination.

Other announcements outlined in the speech include:

£70 million of relationship support funding and steps to underline the importance of parenting

Speaking about the importance of strong families and parenting in preventing poverty, the Prime Minister will announce that the government will double its funding for relationship support, from £35 million to £70 million over the course of the Parliament. It is expected to help more than 300,000 couples and train more than 10,000 staff.

Regenerating 100 housing estates across the country

The Prime Minister will outline plans to transform 100 housing estates across the country working with residents, housing associations, councils and private developers. For some, this will mean simply knocking down the estates and starting again, for others it might mean changes to layout, upgrading facilities and improving connections with local transport. An advisory panel, chaired by Lord Heseltine, will also be set up to make sure that all tenants and homeowners are properly protected. The government will put forward £140 million to harness investment from developers.

Published 11 January 2016