PM's mental health speech signals 'long-awaited and much-needed shift in thinking'

9 January 2017

Commenting, Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

"I want to welcome the prime minister’s speech today. Theresa May has signalled a long-awaited and much-needed shift in thinking towards preventing mental health problems rather than just treating the symptoms.

"The government has recognised that the answers to creating a mentally healthy society are held within our schools, communities and workplaces, not just in our health service. My concern now is that resources are placed where they are needed most: in communities that are surviving and not thriving. The prime minister has a real opportunity to lead a prevention revolution in our society – starting with those groups who need support now."

Schools

"This is perhaps the most vital context to help prevent mental health issues. We need the whole school to take responsibility for our children’s wellbeing. The CQC and Ofsted need to take account of the emotional health of pupils in their inspections and schools need to work closely with mental health services to ensure progress is made.

"Our own experience shows that one of the biggest challenges we face is people living with mental health problems in silence. That’s why peer-led mental health literacy programmes that involve students are so crucial."

Workplaces

"Much of the evidence here already exists, we don’t need another review. Employers have a real chance to help employees early if they train line managers to spot distress, and to support colleagues who are at risk of developing mental health problems. We cannot afford to let people fall out of the workplace because their signals of mental health distress are ignored at work."

Find out about our work on mental health in the workplace

Digital

"We welcome the government’s desire to learn about what works in this space. We are well behind other countries in Europe and Australia in digital mental health and the challenge we face is to be able to move away from a single offer of cognitive behavioural therapy online.

"In future, we need to offer people a range of effective interventions that give patients choice depending on their experience and preference. 80% of young people have smartphones and they naturally seek information and support online. The government needs to champion better mental health through increased use of digital health interventions."

See more on digital mental health with our guide

Find out about the eMEN digital mental health project we are working on, with partners across North West Europe.