NHS vows to transform mental health services with extra £1bn a year

One million more people a year with mental health problems will receive treatment in England by 2021, the NHS has pledged.

The move comes after a new report found only 15 per cent of people who need psychological therapy in England get access to care, despite mental health problems representing the largest single cause of disability in the UK and suicide rates in England rising after years of decline.

The report – by a taskforce set up by NHS England – also shines a light on problems for children – one in ten of whom have a diagnosable mental health condition.

Mental health care is so poor and underfunded that “lives are being ruined”, the review says.

As a result, the Government has unveiled a big drive to improve mental health services, with an extra £1bn a year to be provided by the end of the decade.

The strategy, announced on Monday, aims to pay for:

  • An extra 600,000 people to get access to talking therapies for conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress
  • A screening programme to ensure more people with severe mental health problems get help for physical health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes
  • Mental health teams to be put into all A&E units – currently only a minority have them
  • More support for pregnant women and new mothers – around one in five suffers from mental health problems
  • Nationwide access to community crisis care teams – only half the country has access to them

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said one in four people across the country experienced some form of mental health problem in their lifetime. Public attitudes towards those afflicted were changing and it was now time “for the NHS to raise its own game”, he added.

Paul Farmer, head of the independent task force that authored today’s report and chief executive of ‘Mind’, claimed a failure to address inadequate mental health services had caused thousands of deaths.

“Mental health services have been underfunded for decades and too many people have received no help at all, leading to hundreds of thousands of lives put on hold or ruined, and thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths,” he said.

Later, he admitted on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme that the £1bn funding pledge was “not enough to get us to the full parity of esteem that everybody talks about and wants”, but still hailed it as a “significant step forward”.

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