Government announces £15m mental health campaign

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A new campaign will provide mental health training for one million people across England, the government has announced.

The 3-year £15 million programme, designed and delivered by Public Health England (PHE), will equip people with ‘first aid’ skills to assess their own and others’ mental wellbeing and to reduce stress.

Due to launch next year, the campaign also aims to raise public awareness of mental health and boost people’s confidence in supporting others with mental health issues.

Commenting on the announcement, made on World Mental Health Day, Prime Minister Theresa May said one of her priorities is ‘tackling the injustice and reducing the stigma associated with mental health conditions’.

‘I want to use the power of government as a force for good to transform the way we deal with mental health problems right across society, and at every stage of life,’ she said.

Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, Paul Farmer, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see this programme also recognizing the importance not only of how to respond effectively to signs of mental health problems in others, but also of managing our own mental health and personal resilience. As the first programme of its kind, testing and evaluation of this programme and its impact will be key. We know from our own work that building resilience can be vital.’

He added that the NHS must be ready to respond to a probable increase in demand for mental health services due to better awareness, and urged the government to deliver on its plan to invest an extra £1 billion in mental health services by 2020/21.

PHE will work closely with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and other mental health organizations to optimize the delivery of the campaign.

MHFA CEO, Poppy Jaman, commented: ‘We are delighted to be working with PHE on this ground breaking mental health literacy campaign.

‘Giving people the knowledge and therefore confidence around how to support themselves or others to get the help they need is a vital first step to creating a society where mental health is treated equally to physical health. Training one million people in Mental Health First Aid skills will move us much closer to being able to achieve this goal.’