A minister for suicide prevention has been appointed in England by the prime minister as the government hosts the first ever global mental health summit.
Theresa May said the appointment of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role will help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide.
While suicide rates are falling, 4,500 people take their own lives every year.
The appointment comes as ministers and officials from more than 50 countries assemble in London for the summit.
Wednesday’s meeting – hosted by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – coincides with World Mental Health Day.
The government has also promised more support in schools, bringing in new mental health support teams and offering help in measuring students’ health, including their mental wellbeing.
Ms May said: “We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives.”
Alongside the announcement, the prime minister pledged £1.8m to the Samaritans so the charity can continue providing its free helpline for the next four years.
Manchester University’s Prof Louis Appleby, one of the country’s leading experts on suicide, said having a minister for suicide prevention would “open doors” and make it easier to have conversations about the role such things as benefits and online gambling have in suicidal people’s lives.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the appointment would also help with getting support for mental illness on a par with services for physical health.
“There is a long road to travel to get there. This is not something you solve overnight,” he said.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said there had not been enough improvements to services since Mrs May pledged to tackle the issue two years ago.
“While we applaud the intention [of the announcement], it is striking that the UK should be hosting such a summit when we hear daily about people left untreated due to a lack of nurses and doctors,” she said.
“The prime minister must examine our own mental health system before addressing other countries.”
By the Prime Ministers plans to decrease austerity measures, she has acknowledged that austerity has helped no one – financially, socially, physically and emotionally – except perhaps those so well off that they don’t notice the impact on the general public.
The shambles of the Benefits System of PIPS, ESA and Universal Credit and it’s negative effects on so many people’s lives must also be acknowledged here as a factor in suicides – but that is another blog post.
Twitter has this morning responded to Piers Morgan’s post on there suggesting that the term “Mental Health” should be changed to “Mental Strength” and that we teach children resilience in this so as to be able to cope with situations in adult life. The view of those who disagree with him is that if this was the case, by nature of the language used, anyone experiencing “poor” or “bad” mental “strength , would be “weak”.
I’m not sure where I stand on this one.
How about you ?
Where to go if you need help
If you, or someone you know, is struggling, there are a number of charities here to help.
- The Samaritans are open 24 hours a day. Call 116 123 or email email@example.com
- The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) offers support to men. Call 0800
- 58 58 58 between 17:00 and 00:00 everyday or visit their webchat page here
- Papyrus helps people under 35. Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to
- 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm – or text 07786 209697
- Childline is available for children and young people under 19. Call 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your bill
- The Silver Line helps older people. Call 0800 4 70 80 90