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26.07.17

Manchester mental health to be transformed by £134m fund

Health authorities in Manchester have this week launched an enormous £134m action plan to transform mental health care in the area.

The investment aims to put mental health on a “equal footing” with physical health, as well as ensure that every child who needs mental health care is treated for their condition.

Around £80m (60%) of the cash will be used immediately to support mental health provision for children, young adults and new mothers.

The investment programme is set to run over four years and has been described as “potentially life changing” by mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

Other aims of the scheme include supporting schools to cater to the mental health and wellbeing of their students, as well as stop people who need hospital care for a mental health problem from being referred out of the GM area.

It also commits to ensure that everyone in mental health crisis has immediate support available to them and to improve the physical health of mental health sufferers, who on average die 15-20 years before people without these conditions.

The programme will also offer support to long-term unemployed people and is targeting to reduce suicides by 10% by 2021.

“As we transform the way we spend on mental health – and increase the proportion spent on children and young people – we’ll begin to see some real change,” Burnham said. “If we’re to build a 21st-century NHS here, it would be one that turns no child away who needs mental health support and is based on the principle of true parity between mental and physical health.”

However, the mayor also argued that funding must be pushed further to help every person in the area get on in life.

“It’s not enough to tackle mental health services alone,” he stated. “The pressures of debt, poverty, low-paid and insecure jobs, poor housing, homelessness and loneliness all have a massive impact. I want everyone here to reach their potential, and this is why we’re tackling these areas as well.”

Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, added that since healthcare was devolved to the region they have made some “huge improvements”, and are now “more than meeting” all national targets.

“But that’s not enough for us – it still means some people are not getting the help they need and are struggling on their own or within their families,” he continued.

“We want to keep people well and will work with community groups and volunteers to help support individuals in their communities, or, for those who are suffering serious illness to give them the crisis and long-term help they need to look after their physical and mental health.

“All the partners involved in mental health across Greater Manchester have inspired the action plan. NHS commissioners, local authorities and businesses will work together with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors, those using services and carers to make the improvements.”

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