As strong Mental Health advocates, and active lawyers, we were pleased to hear Prime Minister Theresa May talk about tackling the crisis in Mental Health.
Naturally, we have some concerns.
Firstly, saying that the government recognises the increasing numbers of adults and children suffering with mental health difficulties and want to reduce the stigma is all very well and good, but they need to put money where their mouth is.
The crisis has escalated massively since the deep cuts to public services and, notable, to preventative mental health services. But, what also needs to be addressed are the increases in culture in areas such as competition, which has a direct impact on levels of anxiety and security.
Children’s mental health
The statistics make for startling reading (sourced from The Telegraph)
- 1 in 10 children and young people between the ages of 5 to 16, suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder
- 68% rise in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm over the last 10 years - that's three in every classroom
- 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression
- 50% of adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood
- 95% is the proportion of young people in prison who have a mental health disorder
It is pleasing to see that the government is recognising that children’s mental health needs to be addressed to prevent difficulties blighting lives into adulthood.
Reducing the stigma is essential to seeing an improvement in mental health.
One of the plans that is concerning though is that teachers are being suggested as a point of recognition of mental health difficulties.
Teachers are a great source in which children can confide, but the profession is also struggling with cuts to services and increased pressures on their workload.
Plus, recognition is not enough on its own, there needs to be the resources to then support those suffering.
Nevertheless, this is encouraging and if teachers are given the resources, this could be a vital lifeline to our children.
Adult mental health
Similarly, with adults commonly spending more time at work than at home, the government wants employers to be taking as much care of their staff’s mental health as their physical health.
Large companies are already acting on this in areas of high stress, such as financial services and have in-house therapists and counselling to support their staff.
But, small and medium size businesses make up 99% of businesses. Human resource departments are commonly roles encompassed by people who are involved in the day to day management of the company, working long hours and consumed by the numerous regulations of employment imposed by the government.
How businesses will be able to assist will be the essence. Imposing more regulations on businesses may be detrimental, but encouragement and collaboration with mental health charities, providers and government would be a more ‘shared’ approach.
Mental Health needs to be talked about more
It is encouraging to hear the government talk about mental health and pledge to tackle the crisis.
Talking about mental health will help alleviate the stigma.