Norman Lamb writes…A blueprint for a fairer society

1 in 4 of us will develop a mental health problem at some point in our lives – and 75% of these conditions develop by the age of 18. If people don’t get the support they need in childhood and adolescence it can have an impact on the rest of their lives.  
 
And in yesterday’s budget, Liberal Democrats acted decisively to make sure the best possible support is available, with £1.25bn of new investment in young people’s mental health services, and a clear blue print for delivering the transformation needed.
 
If we want to build a fairer society, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential in life, we must ensure that young people with mental health problems get the help and support they need.
 
There are some really good mental health services for young people around the country. But too often these services are fragmented and under-resourced, and young people are simply not getting help when they need it.  A complete overhaul is long overdue.
 
Last year, I set up a Task Force to look at how we can link up mental health services with other advice services in the community, making it easier – and less daunting – for young people to seek help, and making sure they get the right support when they ask for it.
 
The task force brought together clinicians, counsellors, and mental health experts – but also, crucially, young people themselves with experience of mental health problems.  The charity Young Minds helped us work with young people to understand the problems they have faced getting help, and their priorities for change.

 
We also looked at innovative models of support in other parts of the world.  In Australia, the “Headspace” service provides a fantastic one-stop advice service covering mental health, relationships, and career help for young people – all in a friendly and un-daunting setting.  Young people can seek help online, and don’t need to get a referral via their GP.  
 
Yesterday, the Task Force published its report setting out a blue print for the future of young people’s mental health services.  It is a genuinely groundbreaking set of proposals – backed up by a massive £1.25bn investment across the next Parliament.  This is only happening because of Liberal Democrats in government.
 
We are going to boost mental health support with better access to therapy sessions, including group support, bringing services into the community through local cafes and youth centres, and improve the help that young people can access via websites and apps.  We will also make sure services are better linked into the fantastic charities already providing support for young people.  And evidence gathering will be much more rigorous, so we can see clearly what works, and what doesn’t. You can read the full report here.
 
As Liberal Democrats we now need to make sure that the plan is implemented in full after May.  Hundreds of thousands of young people’s futures are at stake – we cannot afford to fail them.  But by delivering on the promise of this report we will be taking a great stride forwards in our work to build a fairer society.

* Norman Lamb is MP for North Norfolk and was Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health until May 2015. He now chairs the Science and Technology Select Committee

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8 Comments

  • 1 in 4 of us will develop a mental health problem at some point in our lives

    By what definition of ‘mental health problem’ is this true?

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Mar '15 - 9:45pm

    The work keeps coming in from Norman Lamb. It’s a hefty report with lots of recommendations and I also note that many of the recommendations are cost neutral, but not all of them. This is exactly the sort of work we need getting done by liberal ministers.

    I hadn’t had time to read it in detail, I just skipped to the Executive Summary to see the costs of this.

  • 100 people too mentally ill to work are getting their benefits sanctioned each day. Housing benefits have been reduced for the young. The number of under-25s sleeping rough in London has more than doubled in the past three years. Talking about a “fairer society” when you’re doing that to people?

    Forcing people on benefits out of the homes they’ve lived in for up to 55 years with the bedroom penalty. Whilst giving other people subsidy after subsidy to buy themselves a home. What kind of “fair” is that.

  • Mr Lamb why are you still a minister in a government which sanctions 100 people too mentally ill to work each day. Making them anything from miserable to destitute or suicidal. Making their health problems worse. Isn’t that something the Liberal Democrats could stop tomorrow?

  • It’s difficult to reconcile this sentiment with the 8% cuts to mental health budgets by the Coalition.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31970871

  • Some of the comments above appear to have no understanding where 13 years of Labour left us and the enormous effect Norman Lamb has had on this area.It is nothing short of a miracle that he has achieved so much amidst the normally couldnt care less Tories. Well done and keep talking about this subject

  • bob sayer

    Some of the comments above appear to have no understanding where 13 years of Labour left us and the enormous effect Norman Lamb has had on this area.It is nothing short of a miracle that he has achieved so much amidst the normally couldnt care less Tories. Well done and keep talking about this subject

    Labour incerased funding and services available for mental health. Their 13 years resulted in real, measurable improvements. Not as much as in other aspects of healthcare, and they should have done more, but to suggest their policies were ineffective is a gross distortion of reality.

    I applaud the cross party consensus that now exists on mental health, and the very real efforts Lamb and other politicians are putting in, but that doesn’t mean we can rewrite history. Nor can we ignore the gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to funding, as in that link to the BBC report on research above.

  • Stephen Campbell 21st Mar '15 - 10:45am

    While I do applaud Norman Lamb’s work on mental health, it is nowhere near enough.

    As a mental health patient, I have seen services become worse since this government was formed and the NHS “reforms” passed. I’m now waiting even longer between appointments. The crisis teams are overwhelmed and cannot cope. I’ve been waiting almost two years now for an appointment for talking therapy.

    And, as said above, the way this government (and to a lesser extent, the last Labour government) has treated those with mental health issues who cannot work is absolutely appalling. The WCA is not fit for purpose. Sanctions are unfarily hitting those with mental health problems disproportionately. It dehumanises those who are already incredibly vulnerable. It has led some people to take their own lives.

    The whole DWP system, when dealing with people cursed with mental health problems, is cruel and inhumane and it should’ve been scrapped and replaced with something better years ago. It is to this party’s shame that it has not used its influence in coalition to stand up for these people against the cruel, bullying DWP.

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