David Cameron promises £1bn mental health 'revolution'

David Cameron promises a "revolution" in mental health care Credit: Pool

David Cameron has promised a "revolution" in mental health care as he unveiled a near-£1 billion plan aimed at helping people including anorexic teenagers and mothers with post-natal depression.

As he announced the measures in a speech on Monday, the prime minister called for an end to the "shame and embarrassment" endured by mental health patients.

Video report by ITV News' political correspondent Libby Wiener

He told the audience in London that one in four people will develop a problem such as anxiety or depression this year alone, while suicide is now the leading cause of death for men under 50.

Included in the mental health plans are:

  • £290 million to be spent by 2020 helping 30,000 more new and expectant mothers with mental health issues

  • Services expanded to ensure teenagers with eating disorders get faster treatment, and a new waiting measure to track the amount of time before patients are seen

  • £250 million over the next five years to embed mental health services in every hospital emergency department

  • A £400 million investment in crisis resolution and home treatment teams to operate 24 hours a day as an alternative to hospitals

  • A new waiting time target, meaning at least half of those experiencing psychosis for the first time must be treated within two weeks

In his keynote speech, the prime minister said: "Mental illness isn't contagious. There's nothing to be frightened of.

"As a country, we need to be far more mature about this. Less hushed tones, less whispering; more frank and open discussion.

"We need to take away that shame, that embarrassment, let people know that they're not in this alone, that when the clouds descend, they don't have to suffer silently.

"I want us to be able to say to anyone who is struggling, 'talk to someone, ask your doctor for help and we will always be there to support you'."

The reforms were recommended by an independent NHS England taskforce, chaired by Paul Farmer, the chief executive of charity Mind, who described them as a "significant moment for mental health".

The speech also outlined Mr Cameron's vision for tackling poverty and inequality, including plans to boost relationship counselling for troubled families and bulldoze 100 of Britain's worst estates in favour of better quality housing.

On the counselling, Mr Cameron said he himself could have used more advise when raising his children, "the most important job we'll ever have" - adding: "Is it right that all of us get so little guidance?"