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Christian charity on NHS mental health pledge: "It depends on how this money is spent"

Mon 15 Feb 2016
By Marcus Jones

The NHS has promised to treat one million more people a year with mental health problems by 2021 after a £1 billion yearly cash injection into the issue.

The promised was made after a new report found only 15% of people who need psychological therapy in England get access to care, despite mental health problems representing the largest single cause of disability in the UK and suicide rates in England rising after years of decline.

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "We have made monumental strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness in this country in the last few decades - from a society that locks people away in asylums to one giving mental health equal priority in law.

"But we must accelerate progress even further. Our shared vision of a seven-day mental health service means people will get the care they need, when they need it, and will help us do much more to prevent mental illness in the first place."

Christian charity Care for the Family has suggested success in changing mental health treatment for the better, will only come if the money is spent in the correct way.

Speaking to Premier, UK Director Katharine Hill acknowledged the problem facing many in the UK. She said: "If you break a leg that's more recognised.

"I think that in the Christian community that's also the case. There is still a degree of stigma attached to mental health.

"It depends on how this money is spent but any support that can be given in this area is to be welcomed."

The report also shines a light on problems for children - one in ten of whom have a diagnosable mental health condition.

Children and adolescents can be sent "anywhere in the country" for inpatient treatment, forcing families to travel long distances, and in some areas one in ten of children's appointments are cancelled because of staff shortages, the report found.

Katharine Hill told Premier this is an issue that her organisation has noted. She said: "We find that very many parents are struggling, particularly with teenagers with mental health issues

"The more support that can be given to that area the better."

As well as a rising suicide rate that peaked in 2014 at 4,882 deaths, the number of people being detained under the Mental Health Act is rising year on year.

The report authors have suggested integrating physical and mental health care and taking steps to ensure that people facing a crisis should have access to mental health care seven days a week and 24 hours a day.

Listen to Katharine Hill speaking to Premier's Hannah Tooley.

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