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Mental health changes

Proposed radical changes to the way in which mental health issues are dealt with in England could see children being taught about mental health

A child writingA new report sets out a radical agenda for the shape of mental wellbeing in years to come.

Proposed radical changes to the way in which mental health issues are dealt with in England could see children being taught about mental health as part of the school curriculum within the next decade.

The Future of Mental Health: A Vision for 2015, a report published jointly by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), the Local Government Association and the NHS Confederation sets out a radical agenda for mental health over the next 10 years.

Local Government Association spokesman, Councillor David Rogers, believes that educating children about mental health issues will help challenge the stigma surrounding the issue and will create a climate which encourages tolerance, understanding and timely treatment.

As well as proposing that mental wellbeing should be discussed in schools, the report suggests that employers should be able to compete to become `wellbeing workplaces' and companies should offer people advice about staying on at work, maintaining an ordinary life.

Jenny Goodall, co-chair of the ADSS, admitted that there would be a number of implementation difficulties to overcome in order to realise the vision, but is confident that it can be achieved.

Angela Greatley, chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, said: By investing in good mental health and offering people who experience mental distress a better service, the £77bn annual cost to society can be reduced and some of our nation's starkest inequalities can be redressed.

However, many onlookers remain unconvinced about this vision. Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, believes the report is a well-rehearsed wish list prescribing a cloud cuckoo land and is likely to remain a utopia because as the paper itself acknowledges, it is uncertain who will pay.

2nd September 2008

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