Theresa May is pledging to help schools and companies in England deal with the “hidden injustice” of mental illness. In a speech, the prime minister will announce extra training for teachers,
more online self-checking for those with concerns and a review of services for children and teenagers. Mental health experts said more funding was needed to improve services. Mrs May’s speech comes as she outlines her plans to use the state to create a “shared society”. She will promise to “transform” attitudes to mental health problems. The government says that, at any time, one in four people has a mental disorder, with an annual cost of £105bn, and that young people are affected disproportionately. In the speech, to the Charity Commission, Mrs May will announce several measures: Mrs May said in her speech that mental health has been “dangerously disregarded” as secondary to physical health and changing that will go “right to the heart of our humanity”. Mind chief executive Mr Farmer said it was “important to see the prime minister talking about mental health”. He added: “The proof will be in the difference it makes to the day-to-day experience of the one in four who will experience a mental health problem this year. Mental health is everyone’s business and we need to see sustained leadership to make sure services and support improve”. “Having been neglected for decades, we need to see it made a priority for decades to come to make sure everyone with… problems can live the life they want to lead.”
Dr Sangeeta Mahajan, whose 20-year-old son Sargaar killed himself after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, wants more awareness to be raised around mental health conditions and better access for patients. “They don’t discharge patients with adequate information,” she said. “The doors were closed to us. “We were told you either go to A&E or your GP and that is the only way you can come back to us. We had no direct access back to the specialist services. That is wrong.” Philip Timms, a consultant psychiatrist in London, said there was a long way to go to improve mental health standards. But Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, said: “On mental health particularly, there is really a mismatch for many of her critics between what she will say today and funding on the ground. “With the bigger problems going on with the NHS, I think this will be a difficult message for [her] to land.” The speech follows Mrs May’s announcement at the weekend that she wishes to create a “shared society”, with the state taking a greater role in ending “unfairness”. She called the approach to mental health “a historic opportunity to right a wrong” and a chance for people’ to change their view.