Living through the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of people across our country. 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%20loneliness%20and%20anxiety.
I have also 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 the former Minister for Loneliness, I can assure my constituents the Government is taking steps to improve access to mental health support and services. For example, 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, an increase in our mental health spend to 8.9 per cent of all NHS funding - I welcome this.
In the 2021 Spending Review, I was encouraged to see a new investment of £150 million in NHS mental health facilities linked to A&E and to enhance patient safety in mental health units. Additionally, around £300 million will be spent to complete the programme of replacing mental health dormitories with single en-suite rooms. This is alongside investment of almost £1 billion extra in community mental health care for adults with severe mental illness by 2023/24. This will give 370,000 adults and older adults with severe mental illnesses, including eating disorders, greater choice and control over their care and support them to live well in their communities: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mental-health-recovery-plan-backed-by-500-million
To support this expansion of support, the Government aims to grow the mental health workforce by an additional 27,000 staff by 2023/24. The Government is making progress as the mental health workforce increased by over 8,900 full-time equivalent staff in December 2022 compared to December 2021.
In Our Plan for Patients published in September 2022, the Government committed to expanding mental health support for children at school, given that half of mental health conditions take root by the age of 14. This included a commitment to boost the number of mental health practitioners in primary care and to strengthen mental health support in schools. It also included a commitment to improve access to NHS talking therapies and to enhance community support for adults living with severe mental illnesses.
In December 2022, the Government announced £3.6 million of funding for the National Academy of Social Prescribing to support wellbeing, including the impacts of loneliness. Social prescribing can help those experiencing grief, addiction, dementia and loneliness through a wide range of community-led social activities, services and opportunities that have proven benefits to people’s health and wellbeing. This is proven to improve healthy living, as well as to reduce overprescribing and save capacity for GPs.
While I note disappointment regarding the 10-year Mental Health Plan, the Government has announced its intention to develop and publish a Major Conditions Strategy. Mental ill health is one of the six major conditions included and is at the heart of the strategy. A joined-up Major Conditions Strategy, rather than a standalone mental health strategy, will ensure that mental ill health is considered alongside other physical health conditions.
Preventing and providing better support for mental ill health will be part of the strategy, as well as our separate standalone Suicide Prevention Strategy. The Government recognises that the risk factors that contribute to mental ill health are often cross-society in nature, and will therefore be working closely with departments across Government.
On 17 May, the Government launched its call for evidence for the Major Conditions Strategy which will run until 27 June. You can have your say by completing this survey: https://consultations.dhsc.gov.uk/645cb4b614fbee6d990990c9
Regarding contributions of the 10-Year Mental Health Strategy towards the Major Conditions Strategy – all the submissions received as part of the consultation on the 10-year mental health strategy will be considered as part of the Major Conditions Strategy.
There were over 5,000 submissions to the mental health and well-being call for evidence, and the Government appreciates the engagement work many stakeholders carried out with children, young people and adults with lived experience, and more broadly, to inform their responses to the call for evidence. The Government has analysed these responses and will consider them as part of the process for developing the Major Conditions Strategy.
I hope these new services help end the stigma surrounding mental health, offering crucial support to those suffering and 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, has 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: