Each year the World Health Organisation organises World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of mental health issues and encourage people to speak to family, friends and colleagues about the issue. Mental health issues affect one in four people, and the Government is working to address stigma and to ensure that mental health is placed on an equal footing with physical health.
As Minister for Public Health and Innovation with mental health in her portfolio, Nicola is working on this policy area helping to make the recommendations of the Independent Mental Health Taskforce a reality. Progress is being made with around 750,000 more people accessing talking therapies for mental health issues than in 2010, and record investment in mental health services. The Government has committed to spending an additional £1 billion on mental health by 2020- 2021 to improve access to these important services so that people can receive the right care in the right place when they need it most.
On World Mental Health Day Nicola met with Andy’s Man Club, a support group for men to discuss mental health issues in a safe environment. The group was founded by Luke Ambler following the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Andy Roberts, who took his own life earlier this year. The initiative provides a safe space for men in crisis to discuss issues with others facing similar problems, and also aims to provide services such as solicitors, debt management assistance and anger management classes.
The founders have also launched the #ItsOkayToTalk campaign aiming to break down stigma surrounding male mental health issues. The male suicide rate is around three times higher than females, and it remains the leading cause of death in England in Wales for men aged between 20 and 34.
The Government is working to address this and works with organisations such as the National Suicide Prevention Alliance to deliver suicide prevention activities across all age groups.
Nicola says: We are now seeing more Government investment in mental health than ever before, and an estimated 1,400 more people are accessing mental health services every day when compared to 2010. This is not to be underestimated but we know there is more to be done, and thats why initiatives like World Mental Health Day are essential in raising awareness and even saving lives.