Achieving parity of access to treatments for mental health patients compared with that for people with physical conditions will be the work of a generation, the Health Secretary has warned. ITV reports
Matt Hancock said he understood the urgent need to make improvements but stressed that achieving equality of access between mental and physical health patients will take a “generation”.
The minister was speaking at the launch of 25 new trailblazer regions which will introduce new mental health services to a population of nearly 500,000 children and young people.
One in eight children and young people aged between five and 19 had a mental disorder in England in 2017 according to NHS Digital.
The new pilot areas will see schools and the NHS working together to pilot proposals from the Government’s children and young people’s mental health green paper.
The plans are a joint project between the Departments of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Department for Education and include each school having a designated mental health lead, training new mental health support teams and trialling a new four-hour waiting time target.
The DHSC has selected seven institutions to train up to 8,000 new mental health practitioners beginning in January. Each of the 59 mental health support teams will support about 8,000 young people across a cluster of 20 schools and colleges.
Mr Hancock said: “Children and young people with mental illness should receive the same level of support as those with physical illness.”
The new services are expected to be rolled out to between a third and a fifth of the country by 2023-24, with further improvements for children and young people’s services promised in the NHS long-term plan.
The long-term plan, expected in the new year, will set out how the NHS will invest the £20.5 billion extra a year by 2023-24 which was promised in the budget.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “We are much more aware of mental health in the education sector now than in decades gone by and rightly so, and teachers are often able to recognise the early warning signs of changes in their pupils’ behaviour or mood, but they are not mental health professionals.”
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