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Christian charity welcomes government pledge to improve mental health

Mon 11 Jan 2016
By Hannah Tooley

A Christian campaigner has told Premier that she welcomes more resources and money for mental health treatment after the government pledged billions to help sufferers.

But she added that a "sea of change" is needed to address the way mental health is treated in the UK.

Racheal Newham, from the Christian mental health charity Think Twice, told Premier's News Hour that mental health and physical health are not on a level playing field: "There needs to be a whole sea change in the way that we talk about mental health as we still don't see it as important as physical health."

She was speaking after David Cameron promised to boost mental health services in England to tackle poverty and improve people's life chances.

The Prime Minister announced a billion pounds of extra funding to treat post-natal depression and anorexia among teenagers as well as counselling for troubled families.

Rachel Newham said: "The amount of times we see negative portrayals of people with mental health issues in the media is huge - you wouldn't see someone with cancer being portrayed in such a negative light in our media, yet it's okay to do so with mental health."

She added that it is not treated as seriously: "The waiting times for mental health are far greater.

"If somebody presents at A&E with a severe mental health problem their waiting times are often horrendously long."

Around £290 million will be spent by 2020 helping 30,000 more new and expectant mums with poor mental health through perinatal classes, community teams and extra beds in mother and baby units.

Numbers show that one in five new mothers develop a problem around the time of the birth of their child.

Services will also be expanded to ensure faster treatment for teenagers and young people with eating disorders such as anorexia, and from 2017/18 a new waiting time measure will track the proportion of patients being seen within a month of referral, or within a week for urgent cases.

Listen to Premier's Antony Bushfield speak to Racheal Newham here:

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