Nick Clegg’s mental health initiative provides treatment for half a million people

One of Nick Clegg’s first major speeches as leader of the Liberal Democrats, as Lib Dem Voice reported way back in February 2008, was on the subject of mental health, of ensuring much faster access to therapy for those affected.

In Government, he is able to put his ideas into practice, last year allocating £400 million to talking therapies. I wrote then about why I was so pleased to see that much needed investment.

Today’s Telegraph reports that half a million people have entered treatment under the Coalition’s mental health strategy.

Last night, Nick Clegg held a reception in London to support Mind’s Time to Change campaign which aims to end the stigma an d discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. This campaign has received £16 million of Government funding. Nick was joined by celebrities such as Alistair Campbell, Marcus Trescothick and Trisha Goddard, whose openness about their struggles with mental illness is helping to break down the barriers.

Nick highlighted the additional vulnerability of children suffering with mental illness:

“This is particularly important as young people suffering with a mental illness are particularly vulnerable to the stigma surrounding it. They can be bullied, marginalised, left to suffer alone, too afraid to talk about what they are going through. This is a tragedy.”

Additional coverage of the reception can be found in the Yorkshire Post.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Putting £400 million to talking therapies is a laudable initiative. However, on its own, it is also belittling of mental health sufferers. “Mental health” covers a lot of ground, a lot of which encompasses serious medical conditions, which, just like cancer, are helped by support and counselling, but are not cured or resolved by a little cognitive behavioural therapy. I speak from experience.
    Mental health needs to be approached just like other medical conditions: we need more investment in research, specialised medical professionals (doctors, nurses, etc), access to facilities adequate to the medical needs, affordable drugs that are proved effective, clinical trials etc etc. Think of “depression” the same as you think of “diabetes” and you get an approach.
    And, above all, there needs to be a sea-change of attitudes about mental health. Stigma associated with it has to become as morally objectionable as racism. I applaud the Time for Change initiative and would like to see it given more coverage in the news.

  • Richard Shaw 18th Jan '12 - 12:42pm

    As the husband and carer of someone suffering severe social anxiety and depression I welcome any extra funding for mental health care. However it needs to be emphasised how great the shortage of therapists is.

    My wife recently completed a 12 week course of NHS provided art therapy, after waiting 18 months, and would have had 24 weeks but for the fact that the therapist is going on maternity leave for a year – with the Sheffield NHS not providing any replacement. It is obscene that a service with already such a long waiting list is basically being suspended for a year! Committed though the staff are, there are too few of them and there is no one to cover in case of sickness or long-term leave – which a couple of years ago resulted in my wife being suicidal because she went without treatment for 2 months where she should have been having fortnightly sessions, plus an 8 hour wait in the Northern General A&E for a psychiatrist who never turned up. We may now have to resort once more to private treatment, which though good quality is not cheap and barely affordable on our current income.

    My wife, rather courageously I feel, writes a blog about her experiences over at This Compassionate Life. It is my continued hope that this party that I have been a member of for several years will do its utmost to improve and reform mental heathcare quality and provision.

  • If Clegg really cared for the mentally ill he wouldn’t be siding with the Tories in their relentless attacks against the disabled,mentally and/or physically.
    If he really cared about us he would be doing his utmost to fight against the Tories as they scapegoat and punish the disabled for the economic mess caused by greedy and irresponsible bankers and financiers.
    Clegg is no friend of the mentally ill.

  • Tony Dawson 18th Jan '12 - 8:09pm

    @Tim Gatty

    “If Clegg really cared for the mentally ill he wouldn’t be siding with the Tories in their relentless attacks against the disabled,mentally and/or physically.”

    Funny, Mr Gaffy, I am no fan of Tories but these particular ones appear to have been prepared to go along with the Lib Dems to spend a lot more on people with Mental Health issues than Mr Miliband’s Tories did.

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