Ending the Stigma

Are we finally seeing the Government taking notice of what so many people have been saying for a LONG time now? Did the Self Esteem Team’s #Letters2Tess actually get a reaction? In a very welcome announcement UK Prime Minister Teresa May has made some very bold commitments which, if followed through, will be the beginning of getting a lot of people the help they need as well as trying to do something to stem the tide of mental illness. Of course, these changes need to happen now in order to have best impact – those who live with the daily struggle of depression or anxiety or a myriad of other conditions that impact a person’s every waking moment cannot afford to wait until these changes are put into place.

It is my hope that these measures will be in place and quickly so that we can do the things that we should have been doing for a long time. This government doesn’t have a great track record in this area, the extra funding announced in 2014 for CAMHS and other local mental health initiatives hasn’t reached the frontlines where it is needed most. Offering Mental Health First Aid training to every secondary school is a great place to start but we mustn’t assume that mental illness begins with puberty. Children in primary schools need to know how to regulate their emotions, how to deal with big or difficult feelings, how to be kind to themselves and others who are coping with pressure, family chaos, and loneliness among other things. Many primary schools are buying into the Thrive Approach, it isn’t cheap but it is a pretty comprehensive package for the whole school to ensure they are promoting good mental health whilst also getting results!

If the government can make good on these promises we should start to see things move. Come on, Teresa you know you want to!

In the speech, Mrs May announced:

  • Every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training
  • Trials on strengthening links between schools and NHS specialist staff, including a review of children and adolescent services across the country, led by the Care Quality Commission
  • By 2021, no child will be sent away from their local area to receive treatment for mental health issues
  • Appointing mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, to carry out a review on improving support in the workplace
  • Employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off
  • More focus on community care, with an extra £15m towards this, and less emphasis on patients visiting GPs and A&E
  • The reallocation of £67.7m, mostly from the existing NHS digitisation fund, for online services, such as allowing symptom checks before getting a face-to-face appointment
  • A review of the “health debt form”, under which patients are charged up to £300 by a GP for documentation to prove to debt collectors that they have mental health issues

Mrs May confirmed a new green paper would be published later in 2017 on children and young people’s mental health to “transform services in education and within families”.

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