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Social workers to get further support to promote positive mental health

Prime minister announces package of measures designed to focus on prevention

Published on 20th June 2019

Social workers are to be given extra support to promote good mental health under a package of prevention measures announced by the prime minister.

Professional standards for social workers across England will be updated to increase their knowledge and skills when helping those with mental health issues. 

The proposal is just one of a package of reforms aimed at overhauling society’s approach to mental illness.

Under the plans, every new teacher will be trained in how to spot the signs of mental health problems. There will also be a public awareness campaign around looking after your mental health called Every Mind Matters, launching in October. From 2020 parents will also get access through the campaign to targeted advice on how to deal with issues like stress, online bullying and self-harm.

Other reforms include:

- All 1.2 million NHS staff will be encouraged to take suicide prevention training from the Zero Suicide Alliance, which is supported with £2 million of government investment.

- Support for school mental health leads so they can help children struggling with self-harm and risk of suicide.

- Access to world-class teaching and training materials for all teachers to use in classrooms to meet the new requirements for mental health education for all primary and secondary pupils.

- Extra funding to support local authorities to strengthen and deliver local suicide prevention plans so that they better meet the needs of the people they serve.

The plans also include measures to fast track action against undignified and unequal treatment for those in mental crisis – including by committing to overhaul the Mental Health Act.

This legislation will include banning the use of police cells as a place to detain people experiencing mental illness.

Theresa May confirmed that a White Paper will be published before the end of the year in response to Sir Simon Wessely’s review of the Mental Health Act, setting out the steps taken to tackle unequal treatment faced by ethnic minority groups.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Too many of us have seen first-hand the devastating consequences of mental illness, which is why tackling this burning injustice has always been a personal priority for me.

"But we should never accept a rise in mental health problems as inevitable.

"It’s time to rethink how we tackle this issue, which is why I believe the next great revolution in mental health should be in prevention.

"The measures we’ve launched today will make sure at every stage of life, for people of all backgrounds, preventing mental illness gets the urgent attention it deserves," she added.

Vulnerable people are known to be at greater risk of mental illness, including those who face financial difficulties such as problem debt. Government will launch a new breathing space scheme to provide respite from debt collection while people seek support to help prevent the onset of mental health problems - with special access for those receiving crisis treatment.

The prime minister also announced £1 million to the Office of Students for a competition to find innovative new ways to support mental health at universities and colleges and support given to new parents from health visitors and other professionals will be modernised to better support their babies’ behavioural and emotional development.

Theresa May also pledged greater transparency in how money is spent on mental health services, with a commitment to independent audits to ensure that the funding committed under the NHS Long-Term plan reaches the front line.

Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: "We strongly welcome today’s announcements from the Prime Minister. Her commitment to parity of esteem for mental health will lead to better care for people with a mental illness.

"We fully support the need for a greater investment in prevention so that people can live happier, healthier and more independent lives.

"The Independent Review of the Mental Health Act was an important step in making sure that people get the support and care they need when they are at their most vulnerable. It is good to see the start of the implementation of the recommendations from the review particularly in the area of equality.

"But success will depend on continued commitment from future prime ministers to drive sustained investment and improvement across government departments," she added.

 

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