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NHS England invests £120m to tackle mental health

Standards to put mental illness on equal footing with physical health issues

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NHS England is to invest a further £120m on improving mental health services over the next two years.

The investment was announced by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as part of a five-year plan to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health services

The money will support the introduction of new standards for NHS England that focus on reduced waiting times for treatment initiation.

The new standards, which are set to take effect from 2015/16, include a goal to have 75% of people with a common mental health problem, such as depression, to be referred for talking therapy within six weeks. This rises to 95% within 18 weeks.

This brings standards for common mental health conditions in line with those for physical health problems, for which patients are expected to start their care within six weeks, with a maximum wait of 18 weeks.

It is a similar situation for more serious problems. The standards suggest at least 50% of people going through their first episode of psychosis get NICE-approved help within two weeks of being referred. This is the same length of time that someone referred for urgent cancer treatment can expect to wait to be seen.

Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England's national clinical director for mental health, said: “This new approach will help improve crisis care and help reduce the distress that untreated mental illness brings. With 75% of long term mental health problems diagnosed before 18, investing in early effective treatments will pay immediate and long term dividends."

The funding will also support investment in liaison psychiatry services in acute hospitals so more people who go to A&E for a mental health related reason – for example, if they have self-harmed – will get the right help immediately.

The announcement came the same week that the UK was ranked second among 30 European countries for the support given to help integrate people with mental health conditions into society and employment.

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

10th October 2014

From: Healthcare

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