Government invests £400m in new mental health strategy

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The government has claimed that one million people with mental health problems will recover from their condition by 2014 because of their plans to invest £400m in psychological therapies, announced today.

The No Health Without Mental Health strategy, launched today by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and health secretary Andrew Lansley, sets out plans to ensure mental health awareness and treatment is given the same prominence as the nation’s physical health, for children as well as adults.

However, Community Care understands the £400m will come from the existing budgets of primary care trusts over the next four years. PCTs will be required to improve counselling and evidenced-based psychological therapies and patients will be able to request a referral via their GP or contact the provider directly for a self-referral consultation, ensuring access for all those who need it .

The government said it would also ensure that early intervention services were put in place to tackle the underlying causes of mental ill-health.

An extra £7.2m will also be invested to ensure veterans with mental health problems receive the best treatment possible and will improve access to mental health services, by 2014, for people in contact with the criminal justice system. Community Care is awaiting clarification on if this money is new money or if it will also come from existing PCT budgets.

Ministers claimed that by 2014, the strategy will have delivered more than £700m of savings to the public sector in healthcare, tax and welfare gains, it was announced.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “This cross-government strategy will finally place good mental health at the heart of everything we do. For the first time, people of all ages with mental health problems will be able to receive personalised care to reflect their own needs.

“The NHS will also no longer focus its attention on treatment alone – but will move towards early intervention and prevention to deliver outcomes for patients which are among the best in the world.”

Charities have praised the strategy but are concerned its implementation will be affected by public sector cuts.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: “We commend the government for putting children and young people at the heart of its mental health strategy for the first time.

“Effective implementation of this strategy, however, will be challenging in the tough economic climate. We look forward to working with government to make the strategy a reality, resulting in a transformation in the lives of children and young people in Britain today.”

Research has shown that at least one in four people and 10% of all children and young people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life.

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