0338 GMT August 24, 2019
Jackie Doyle-Price, a health minister, will be given the new brief and tasked with ensuring that every local area has effective plans in place to stop unnecessary deaths, and investigating how technology can help identify those most at risk, theguardian.com reported.
A report by Whitehall’s spending watchdog, released on Wednesday, found that even if current plans to spend an extra £1.4 billion on the sector were delivered, there would be ‘significant unmet need’ because of staff shortages, poor data and a lack of spending controls on NHS clinical commissioning groups.
Hancock said the National Audit Office report showed service provision was “still way off where we need to be” but improvements had been made.
“The truth is that, for an awfully long time, mental health has simply not had the same level of support — both in terms of resources, but also in terms of how we as a society talk about it — compared to physical health, and we want to change that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
As well as having a minister for suicide prevention, the government wanted to ensure that “as we write the long-term plan for the future of the NHS, which we are writing at the moment, we make sure that mental health is a crucial component of that”.
Doyle-Price, whose new title will be minister for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention, said she would put bereaved families at the heart of her strategy.
She is believed to be the world’s first minister for suicide prevention.
She said in a statement: “I understand how tragic, devastating and long-lasting the effect of suicide can be on families and communities. In my time as health minister I have met many people who have been bereaved by suicide and their stories of pain and loss will stay with me for a long time.
“It’s these people who need to be at the heart of what we do and I welcome this opportunity to work closely with them, as well as experts, to oversee a cross-government suicide prevention plan, making their sure their views are always heard.”
Theresa May pledged to tackle ‘burning injustices’ when she became the prime minister of the UK.
The prime minister has also pledged up to £1.8 million to ensure the Samaritans’ helpline remains free for the next four years, as well as new mental health support teams for schools, who will be given help to measure their students’ health, including their mental wellbeing.
However, the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, thought the proposed five-year plan was too long to wait for some children, and said five years “feels like a lifetime to a young child”.
“I want to see a counselor in every secondary school, every primary school having access to counselling services, a closing of the huge gap in what is spent on adult and children’s mental health and a system in place that provides support and treatment for every child who needs it, when they need it,” she said.
“Today’s announcement is a step forward that must now be matched by proper funding and more ambitious delivery.”