Worcester MP Robin Walker has welcomed the announcement from Prime Minister Theresa May of a set of measures to prevent mental illness and ensure that it receives the urgent attention that it deserves.
Over the last three years the Government has helped put in place the largest transformation in mental health for more than a generation. Not only through investment in mental health services, but also by working with schools and employers as well as supporting campaigns that help to raise awareness and reduce stigma.
Robin who has long advocated for attention on this issue has recently met with the Worcestershire Royal Hospital to discuss progress on much needed improvements including the handling of mental health services in Worcester and believes that the measures announced by the Prime Minister will help to deliver a sea change to be part of a broader strategy to combat mental illness in the UK.
In 2015, Robin led a debate in the House of Commons calling for better mental health support to the emergency department at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. In his recent meeting improvements in this area were noted, however he has always recognised that a good mental health system needs to go beyond hospitals reaching out into the community and providing better support and earlier invention for adults and young people.
Among the set of measures announced today include:
- Training for all new teachers on how to spot the signs of mental health issues, backed up by updated statutory guidance to make clear schools’ responsibilities to protect children’s mental wellbeing.
- Providing access to world-class teaching and training materials for all teachers to use in classrooms to meet the new requirements for mental health education for all primary and secondary pupils.
- Encouraging all 1.2 million NHS staff to take suicide prevention training from the Zero Suicide Alliance; and extra funding for a support programme that will help local authorities to strengthen and deliver local suicide prevention plans so that they better meet the needs of the people they serve.
- Updating professional standards for social workers across England to increase their knowledge and skills when helping those with mental health issues; and modernising the support given to new parents from health visitors and other professionals to better support their babies’ behavioural and emotional development.
- Confirming the launch of a new public awareness campaign around looking after your mental health, called Every Mind Matters, in October, and that from 2020 parents will also get access through the campaign to targeted advice on how to deal with issues like stress, online bullying and self-harm.
- Creating a £1 million competition, run by the Office for Students, to find innovative new ways to support mental health at universities and colleges.
- Launching a new breathing space scheme to provide respite from debt collection while people seek support to help prevent the onset of mental health problems – with special access for those receiving crisis treatment.
Speaking after the announcement from the Prime Minister, Robin said:
“I have long argued not only for increased funding but also targeted specialist support for mental health patients in Worcester, and I am glad that this issue has been right at the top of the Prime Minister’s agenda.”
“However, this is only an important step in the right direction and needs to be part of a wider package to address this growing issue. I look forward to working with the next leader of our country to ensure that we have an appropriately funded system with well-trained professionals to help meet the meet the needs of individuals with mental health issues. My campaign for a medical school in Worcester could help to deliver the next generation in expertise.”
Prime Minister Theresa May commented:
“Much of our work over the last three years has rightly focused on those suffering from mental ill-health. But I also believe that the next great revolution in mental health should be in prevention – because we should never accept a rise in mental health problems as simply inevitable.”
“As Prime Minister, I am proud to have helped set in train the biggest transformation in mental health care in more than a generation. My successor must now build on that work for the good of everyone, in every part of our country.”
For Robin’s previous statements of mental health service provision, see: