I appreciate the time constituents took to invite me to Mind’s recent parliamentary reception. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event due to prior commitments. However, I would like to reassure constituents this issue is one that remains close to my heart and one I will continue to champion as your MP.
I have been very open about my own struggles with mental health, especially during the years I spent helping my mother care for my father who spent 25 years at home in need of support after an accident at work: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/health/minister-for-loneliness-mims-davies-on-her-own-experiences-of-isolation-and-tackling-one-of-the-biggest-challenges-britain-has-136647
As we all know, the pandemic affected the mental health of people across our country, and I welcome action taken by the Government to improve relevant support and services. Recently, I was proud to support Mental Health Awareness Week, which inspires people to believe that they can see change in their lives for the better: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/news/mims-davies-mp-supports-mental-health-awareness-week#:~:text=As%20a%20local%20MP%20and%20former%20Minister%20for,initiatives%20which%20help%20to%20tackle%20lone
As part of the five-year funding offer agreed in 2019, mental health services will receive an additional £2.3 billion a year in real terms by 2023-24 enabling service expansion and faster access to community and crisis mental health services for all. I am also pleased to report the Government has committed to increase mental health spend to 8.9 per cent of all NHS funding. I know constituents welcome this.
As announced in the 2021 Spending Review, a new investment of £150 million will be spent on NHS mental health facilities linked to A&E to enhance patient safety. Additionally, around £300 million will complete the programme of replacing mental health dormitories with single en-suite rooms.
Moreover, almost £1 billion of extra funding in community mental health care by 2023/24 will give 370,000 adults and older adults with severe mental illnesses, including eating disorders, greater control over their care and will help support them in their communities. The Government aims to grow the mental health workforce by an additional 27,000 staff by 2023/24; indeed, the mental health workforce has increased by over 8,900 full-time equivalent staff in 2022 compared to 2021.
Last year, the Government pledged to expand mental health support in schools, particularly as half of related conditions take root by the age of 14. 'Our Plan for Patients' promised to boost the number of mental health practitioners in primary care and to strengthen mental health support in schools. It also commits to improve access to NHS talking therapies and to enhance community support for adults living with severe mental illnesses.
I appreciate constituents' disappointment regarding the 10-year Mental Health Plan. However, I am reassured to know the Government is set to publish a Major Conditions Strategy, and mental ill health is one of the six major conditions included. This ensures that it is considered alongside other physical health conditions rather than as a standalone strategy. The Department of Health and Social Care has launched its call for evidence for the Major Conditions Strategy; the consultation is now closed, and findings will be released in due course.
Preventing and providing better support for mental ill health will certainly be part of the strategy, as well as our separate standalone Suicide Prevention Strategy. The Government recognises that the risk factors to mental ill health are often cross-society in nature and therefore require a cross-departmental approach.
All the submissions received on the 10-year mental health strategy consultation will be considered as part of the Major Conditions Strategy. Given the original consultation received over 5,000 submissions, the Government appreciates the engagement work carried out by many stakeholders.
I hope these improved services end the stigma surrounding mental health, offering crucial support to those who have suffered in silence for too long.
In the meantime, constituents can now access a 24/7 mental health crisis helpline set up by the 54 mental health trusts across England and which, to date, have already received over three million calls countrywide. Mid Sussex residents can call 0800 0309 500 to reach the Sussex Mental Healthline.
This helpline is part of the five-year funding offer that will see the annual NHS budget grow by over £33.9 billion and where mental health services will receive budget growth of £2.3 billion over the five-year funding settlement - the fastest uplift in funding. This will essentially enable further service expansion, and faster access to both community and crisis mental health services for adults and, particularly, children and young people in Mid Sussex.
I will continue to engage with relevant bodies to ensure this happens and that the needs of Mid Sussex residents are met.
Please feel free to read more about my work on mental health: