Mental Health: 16th July 2013

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con)
3. What steps he is taking to change negative perceptions of mental health issues. [165200]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry)
I pay tribute to the work done on this issue by my hon. Friend, as well as by my hon. Friends the Members for Broxbourne (Mr Walker), for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell), for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan) and many others. They have done a huge amount to remove the taboo associated with mental health. We are funding the “Time to Change” campaign, with up to £16 million being put in from 2011 to 2015. The programme works to support and empower people to talk about their mental health problems and to tackle the discrimination that so many of them face. It includes for the first time a tailored programme of work for children and young people.

Bob Stewart
How confident is my hon. Friend that general practitioners are able to make rapid assessments of potential mental health problems, particularly clinical depression, when patients present themselves perhaps for other non-related matters?

Anna Soubry
We know that a third of GP appointments are mental health-related, so GPs have a lot of experience in tackling mental illness. We also know, however, that it is not covered extensively in GP training, which is why the Royal College of General Practitioners has identified improved care for people with mental health problems as a training priority—this is to be welcomed—through its enhanced GP training programme.
Mr Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op)
Yet mental health spending has been cut over the last two years and we find ourselves in a position where four in 10 mental health trusts do not have safe levels of staffing. What is the Minister going to do about the funding and the staffing levels in our mental health services?

Anna Soubry
Of course, the overall health budget will be rising by some £12 billion by 2015, and in relation to mental health, I have to say that I am exceptionally proud of this Government for making mental health such a priority, notably through the mandate. I think we are to be congratulated on at last recognising how important mental health is. In our view, it underpins almost all public health matters and so many of the troubles and conditions that people present to GP surgeries. Therefore, I think we are doing an extremely good job on this subject.