Theresa May vows major shake up of 'flawed' mental health system
Theresa May has today vowed to overhaul the “flawed” mental health system in England and Wales with an army of first aiders on the front line in schools and businesses.
The Prime Minister said 10,000 new staff and training for 1,500 mental health professionals would be paid for with £1bn of funding by 2020.
She also pledged to rip up the 1983 Mental Health Act (MHA) to end discrimination that leads to a higher proportion of black people being detained in police cells and scant workplace rights.
Labour derided the “warm words” from the Prime Minister and said the plans included no extra funding for mental health.
Mrs May said she wanted to end the “injustice” for those who find “when they need care, there isn’t enough help at hand”.
Under the Tory plans large businesses and every primary and secondary school in England and Wales would have a mental health first-aider.
Scrapping the MHA would end the rule that workers are protected only if their condition lasts 12 months or more – a clause that fails to help those who suffer short bursts of depression.
And they would commit to fund the Samaritans emergency hotline until 2022 as a safety net for those who feel suicidal.
Mrs May told the Sunday Times: “Every single person in Britain today, no matter who they are or where they live, will have a friend or loved one affected by mental ill-health.
“For too long, people with mental health problems have suffered unacceptable stigma and the injustice of finding that, when they need care, there isn’t enough help at hand.
“Those receiving treatment have found themselves without the choices and care that they might expect if they had a physical ailment. That’s wrong, and I am determined to put it right.”
She added: “Our understanding of mental illness has changed and our laws need to change too.
“Thirty years after it was first introduced, I will replace in its entirety the flawed Mental Health Act, which too often leads to detention, disproportionate effects and the forced treatment of vulnerable people.”
Some 63,000 people were detained under the act in 2014-15, with black people who spend time in hospital with mental illness 50% more likely to end up in a police cell after a setback.
But Shadow Health Minister Barbara Keeley said: “The Tories have not delivered on their promise to give mental health the same priority as physical health.
“They appear to be offering no extra funding and have consistently raided mental health budgets over the last seven years.
“Warm words from the Tories will not help to tackle the injustice of unequal treatment in mental health.”