Community-based mental health services will receive a boost in funding, as part of wider plans announced by prime minister Theresa May to improve the provision of mental healthcare.
The government will invest £15 million into new models of community–based care such as crisis cafes and community clinics. The prime minister also announced that more than £67 million would be invested into digital mental healthcare, which would allow patients to access therapy online.
‘For too long mental illness has been something of a hidden injustice in our country, shrouded in a completely unacceptable stigma and dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health,’ said Ms May. ‘Yet left unaddressed, it destroys lives, it separates people from each other and deepens the divisions within our society.'
In addition, the government will take steps to improve the provision of mental health in schools, with all staff receiving training, as well as new trials to look at how to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff. ‘What I am announcing are the first steps in our plan to transform the way we deal with mental illness in this country at every stage of a person’s life: not in our hospitals, but in our classrooms, at work and in our communities,’ added Ms May. She also committed to improving the provision of physical healthcare for patients with mental health conditions.
Mental healthcare has become a major priority for the government, particularly for children and young people. According to figures from the DH, mental illness disproportionately affects young people with over half of conditions beginning by the age of 14 and 75% by 18. Additionally, in 2014 mental health conditions affected 20% of all working-age people and approximately one in seven of people in full-time employment.
Despite general approval for the prime minister’s commitment to mental health, some have expressed concerns that a lack of resources for staff could stall progress. ‘Improvements can only be made in all areas of healthcare if there are more nurses,’ said Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
"There are already 24,000 vacant nursing posts in the country and we can only expect the situation to worsen,’ she added. ‘Since the government announced the withdrawal of student funding for would-be nurses, it’s already been reported that there is a 20% drop in applications for graduate nursing courses, with some universities reporting the decrease at around half the usual numbers.’