David Cameron Pledges £1 Billion To End 'Shame And Embarrassment' Of Mental Health Sufferers

Mothers suffering from post-natal depression and anorexic teenagers are to get extra help as part of a near £1 billion "revolution" in mental health care being unveiled by David Cameron.

The Prime Minister will announce services are being bolstered and waiting time targets introduced in England as he calls for an end to the "shame and embarrassment" of sufferers.

The plans are included in a keynote speech outlining Cameron's vision for tackling poverty and improving the life chances of society's least fortunate, the Press Association reported.

David Cameron is set to announce a £1 billion 'revolution' in mental health care

Among the ambitious ideas is a £140 million scheme to bulldoze 100 sink estates across the country and replace them with better quality housing. Cameron will say the "brutal high-rise towers" encourage drug abuse and gang culture, and contributed to the riots that swept Britain in 2011.

Relationship counselling funding for troubled families is also being doubled to £70 million over the next five years, and a coalition proposal to issue vouchers for parenting classes is being relaunched.

Cameron is expected to say that he personally could have done with more advice on raising children. "Is it right that all of us get so little guidance?" he will ask. "What about later on, when it comes to good play, communication, behaviour and discipline? We all need more help with this – the most important job we'll ever have."

The mental health reforms have been recommended by NHS England's independent task force on the issue, chaired by the chief executive of charity Mind, Paul Farmer.

Cameron is to tell an audience in London that one in four people will develop a problem such as depression or anxiety this year alone, and suicide is now the leading cause of death for men under 50.

"Mental illness isn't contagious. There's nothing to be frightened of," he will say.

"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'."

The measures being announced are:

  • £290 million to be spent by 2020 helping 30,000 more new and expectant mums with poor mental health through perinatal classes, community teams and extra beds in mother and baby units.
  • A £247 million injection over the next five years to embed mental health services in every hospital emergency department. Half of England's acute hospitals should have these services available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by 2020. One in five new mothers develop a problem around the time of the birth of their child.
  • Services will be expanded to ensure faster treatment for teenagers with eating disorders such as anorexia, and from 2017/18 a new waiting time measure will track the proportion of patients being seen within a month of referral, or within a week for urgent cases.
  • A new waiting time target from April so that at least half of those experiencing psychosis for the first time must be treated within two weeks, rising to at least 60% by 2020.
  • A £400 investment in crisis resolution and home treatment teams to operate 24 hours a day as an alternative to hospitals.

Farmer 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."

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