The promotion of mental health among children and young people aged
under 18 is a key objective of the government’s National Suicide
Prevention Strategy for England launched this week.
The strategy’s focus on early identification of mental health
problems is in line with Community Care’s Changing Minds
campaign for better mental health care for children and
The new suicide prevention strategy aims to reduce the number of
suicides by at least 20 per cent by 2005. It also aims to ensure
that local mental health services use assertive outreach teams to
maintain contact with the most vulnerable patients. Young men are a
particular target, as suicide is the most common cause of death for
males aged under 35.
The strategy, which will be delivered as a core programme of the
National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE), will aim
to identify earlier those people at a high risk of suicide. This
will include the establishment of a national organisation to
monitor non-fatal deliberate self-harm.
The Department of Health said responsibility for suicide prevention
could not rest with the health sector alone, as three-quarters of
people who killed themselves were not in contact with mental health
A cross-government network will be developed to address issues that
impact on people with mental health problems such as unemployment
The suicide prevention programme will also be linked closely with
the NIMHE substance misuse programme.
Richard Brook, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind,
welcomed much of the strategy but warned that it would be
undermined by the plans to introduce more compulsory powers under a
new mental health act .
New research by Mind published this week reveals that 52 per cent
of 15 to 24 year-olds would not seek medical help for depression if
compulsory treatment was introduced.
Overall, 37 per cent of people would be deterred, with the figure
increasing to almost half among those in the lowest earning groups,
who are more likely to experience mental health problems.