Read Nicola’s Huffington Post blog on male suicide and the new ‘In Your Corner’ initiative:
Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, and men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. The human cost is unacceptable and shows the need for swift action and a renewed focus at all levels – from central and local government, from charities and voluntary organisations.
Today, Time to Change launches their new five year campaign “In Your Corner”, urging friends to “be in your mate’s corner and change a life.” This is a campaign focussed at men, but it applies to us all. Talking about mental health issues can be daunting. I have seen first-hand how important it is for anyone with mental health problems to have someone they can confide in and trust.
On World Mental Health Awareness Day last October I met Luke Ambler who runs the #AndysManClub website which promotes talking about mental health. Luke told me about the tragic and unexpected loss of his brother-in-law, Andy, to suicide. He believes that such tragedies would be rarer if men felt more comfortable chatting about how they feel. So he set up his own charity and helps create safe spaces for people to talk. It is simple, effective and inspiring.
It means the men who attend his group feel like they always have someone in their corner they can turn to. I am determined that our mental health services are also somewhere people feel they can reach out to for help.
The government is stepping up to the challenge.
In January the Prime Minister committed to making mental health care a priority for this government. She introduced a comprehensive package of reforms to improve mental health support at every stage of a person’s life. We know we can do more to support the one in four people who develop a mental health condition at some point in their life and so we are investing more than £11billion this year.
We now have strengthened our cross-Government suicide prevention strategy which specifically targets those most at risk like young and middle-aged men. We have worked with local authorities to make sure that every local area has a suicide prevention strategy in place by the end of 2017. So far 95 per cent of local authorities have or are developing one, which is a big step forward.
I am also encouraged by the recent progress of waiting time figures for mental health treatments, especially our ‘Improving Access to Psychological Treatments’ programme. Since the introduction of the first waiting times and standards for talking therapies almost 90 per cent of patients have been seen within six weeks. This is an incredible achievement making a real difference to people’s lives across the country, and is thanks to the hard work of great NHS staff on our frontlines.
There is innovation which will also help men in need, we are injecting almost £70million into using digital technology to support mental health care, this means that if someone feels like they can be open in writing and online than face-to-face, we are giving them that opportunity. But we still have a long way to go.
Today’s launch highlights that all men should have someone they feel comfortable talking about their feelings with and, where people need NHS help and support, this government is committed to delivering the highest quality mental healthcare.