Monday, 29 October 2012

Ed Miliband speaks about stigma in mental health

Ed Miliband has spoken out about the stigma around mental illness, which he called "a taboo which must be broken." He describes the problem of mental illness in the UK as the "biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age".

The Labour leader has said that he wants patients to have the same legal right to mental health therapies as to physical healthcare.

"There are so many people in Britain today who could be treated but who are intimidated from seeking help. And so many people who need support but... believe that no-one will care.
"For far too long our leading politicians have been far too silent about mental health, part of a taboo running across our society which infects both our culture and our politics.
"It is a taboo which not only blights the lives of millions but also puts severe strain on the funding of our NHS and threatens Britain's ability to pay our way in the world.
Miliband announced the following proposals to improve mental health provision in the NHS:
  • Rewriting the NHS constitution to enshrine patients' legal right to therapies for mental illness
  • Mental health training for all staff
  • Better integration of physical and mental healthcare, and social care
Miliband is setting up a taskforce - led by the chairman of Barts Health NHS Trust, Stephen O'Brien - to draw up a strategic plan for mental health in society.  What is new is that it has at last been recognised that the focus should not be just on government programmes and health services, but on communities, education and the workplace.

This speech has been well received by national mental health charities such as Mind. Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "Mental health is everyone's business".

Rethink Mental Illness praised Mr Miliband for making mental health a priority, particularly improving the training of NHS staff: "As things stand, you can become a doctor having only studied mental health for a few days.

BBC News

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