Nick Clegg and Paul Burstow unveil new mental health strategy

Yesterday Nick Clegg and Paul Burstow unveiled a new mental health strategy in which more focus will be placed on dealing with mental health problems at an early stage.

The new mental health strategy for England promises an extra £400m for therapies, such as counselling, to increase access to them by 60% by 2015. It also stresses the need for early intervention, to nip in the bud mental health problems in children.

Mental health represents 23% of burden of disease (30% of people that walk through a GP’s door, for example) but only 11% of expenditure. One of the first speeches Nick Clegg made on becoming Liberal Democrat leader was to highlight the state of mental health provision and accuse politicians of “shamefully” turning a blind eye to the scale of mental health problems.

Under Labour the top-down approach has ultimately denied many service users the personalised support they need.

Under measures announced today we will be investing around £400 million in talking therapies over the next four years:

·         an extra 1.2m people able to get treatment for depression and anxiety
·         0.5m more people will recover, many more showing measurable improvement
·         75,000 more people will be able to work, or take part in education, training or volunteering
·         and more than £700m in savings, in healthcare, tax and welfare gains.

Speaking yesterday morning on Daybreak, Nick Clegg said: “Today we are announcing that we are repealing an old-fashioned outdated law which means that MPs at the moment are disqualified from being MPs if they have a mental health problem which goes on for more than six months.

“We are scrapping that – it is a relatively symbolic thing because it has never been used – but it nonetheless shows that we are determined to root out that stigma.”

“Many people think that soldiers coming back from conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan, they have been so brave and so courageous, I think people think ‘Well, surely they are not susceptible to mental health problems’.

“But often, actually, the toughest battle for them is when they have actually come back from the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Paul Burstow youtube video can be seen here with more info available on the Lib Dem website here

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