Newstalk
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10.10 9 Jan 2017


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Prime Minister Theresa May is planning for extensive reforms within the UK's mental health services. 

In a speech due to be delivered in London later this morning Mrs May will announce plans to "transform" the way mental illness is dealt with "not in our hospitals but in our classrooms, at work and in our communities".

Mrs May's speech comes as she outlines her plans to use the state to create a "shared society".

In the UK, the government says that, at any time, one in four people has a mental disorder, with an annual cost of £105bn, and that young people are affected disproportionately. Research also shows that more than half of mental health problems start by the time someone reaches the age of 14.

Mrs May will say: "This is a historic opportunity to right a wrong, and give people deserving of compassion and support the attention and treatment they deserve."

The measures to be announced include:

  • Every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training
  • 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
  • Appointing mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, to carry out a review on improving support in the workplace
  • Employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off
  • More focus on community care, with an extra £15m towards this, and less emphasis on patients visiting GPs and A&E
  • Expanding online services to allow symptom checks before getting a face-to-face appointment
  • A review of the "health debt form", under which patients are charged up to £300 by a GP for documentation to prove they have mental health issues

Mrs May will say in her speech that mental health has been "dangerously disregarded" as secondary to physical health and changing that will go "right to the heart of our humanity".

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was a particular "black spot" when it came to mental health care for children and young people, and the new measures would help with the "massive worry for parents".

Suicide rates

The most recent statistics for the UK show that deaths from suicide rose in 2015 to 6,188 deaths, with a subsequent increase in the rate from 10.8 to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population.

UK male suicide rate decreased whilst female rate increased to its highest rate in a decade.

England and Scotland saw decreases in the total number of suicides in 2015, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland saw increases.

In Ireland in the second quarter of 2016, there were 273 deaths due to accidents, suicides and other external causes according to the CSO. Accidents accounted for 65.2% (178) of these deaths while suicides accounted for 27.5% (75).  Of these 273 deaths, two thirds (66.7%) were male.  

The Samaritans' Suicide Statistics Report for 2016 puts the number of incidents of suicide in the UK at 


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