PM unveils her vision for a shared society and argues for child mental health to be prioritised

Theresa May has unveiled her vision for a shared society and argues for child mental health to be prioritised. She stated in her speech that mental health has been "dangerously disregarded".

"For too long mental illness has been something of a hidden injustice in our country, shrouded in a completely unacceptable stigma and dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health. Yet left unaddressed, it destroys lives, it separates people from each other and deepens the divisions within our society. Changing this goes right to the heart of our humanity; to the heart of the kind of country we are, the values we share, the attitudes we hold and our determination to come together and support each other.”

She also revisited the parity of esteem argument, saying that mental health patients should have similar access to services and treatment as those with physical health issues and that this has not been happening. She spoke about the economic and social cost of mental illness and the need to provide more resources. Her focus on children and early intervention was supported by ACP Chair Heather Stewart:

We are delighted that Theresa May should very publicly pledge better resources for children and a focus on early intervention when it comes to mental health. Providing the right treatment and support to children and their families is key if we’re going to make a real difference to people’s lives.” She said. She also stressed the importance of making sure that some of the most disturbed and vulnerable children have access to specialists such as psychoanalytically trained child psychotherapists.

“Our members are trained to observe and understand disturbance early and are therefore better able to address the underlying issues.”

Another ACP spokesperson who works within an NHS CAMHS team, said that it was, "positive that the PM wants mental illness to be an everyday concern for all of us." But added, “tackling mental health across society and having a truly shared approach to mental health involves listening and learning from our mistakes. We need to pay more attention to what really enables children to thrive and build more of the resilience politicians frequently refer to. Reducing stress and pressure on our children and young people therefore, is crucial to making this happen and I sincerely hope that professionals in health, education and social care can be resourced, trained and supported to work together more in partnership, to address the wider issues around children’s development and their psychological and emotional wellbeing.”

For more information see: what May is saying about the importance of reducing the stigma attached to mental illness.

Some of the key measures announced in the PM’s speech:

  • The government will support the piloting of new approaches, such as mental health first aid training in secondary schools (mental health training for teachers and staff will be rolled out to a third of secondary schools in England next year, with the remaining two-thirds of secondary schools offered the support in the following two years.)
  • Trials on strengthening links between schools and NHS specialist staff, including a review of children and adolescent services across the country, led by the Care Quality Commission.
  • Later in the year, a green paper will be published on support for children and young people.