Theresa May has indicated the intention of the Conservative party to recruit 10,000 extra NHS staff to work within the mental health service sector.
However, despite this bold plan, the PM has yet to indicate how this boost to mental health will be funded.
In what represents her first spending announcement of the general election campaign, the PM also indicated her intention to overhaul the thirty four year-old Mental Health Act, with the intention of tackling discrimination and overuse of detention.
There have been concerns that individuals have been detained under the act in inappropriate circumstances, and some high profile cases have hastened action on the matter.
May will also improve employment legislation in order to ensure that workers suffering from problems such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are less likely to experience discrimination.
“On my first day in Downing Street last July, I described shortfalls in mental health services as one of the burning injustices in our country. It is abundantly clear to me that the discriminatory use of a law passed more than three decades ago is a key part of the reason for this,” May commented.
The prime minister went on to explain the reasons for updating mental health legislation.
“So today I am pledging to rip up the 1983 Act and introduce in its place a new law which finally confronts the discrimination and unnecessary detention that takes place too often. We are going to roll out mental health support to every school in the country, ensure that mental health is taken far more seriously in the workplace, and raise standards of care with 10,000 more mental health professionals working in the NHS by 2020.”
There is considerable debate already over how feasible the plans of the Conservatives are, though, with NHS England head Simon Stevens having already stated that the government will reduce NHS funding.
And there was a strong political response to the plans as well.
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, was damning in his assessment of the Conservative NHS legacy.
“Her Government has failed to deliver all of the extra funding for children and young people’s mental health that Lib Dems secured in the coalition and, just last week, it was reported that schools across the country are cutting back mental health support.”
While Barbara Keeley, for Labour, suggested that the NHS had 6,000 fewer mental health nurses than in 2010, and condemned the government for neglecting the publicly-funded healthcare service.
“Seven years of Tory Government have left those with mental health problems without the support they need. The Tory Government has allowed budgets for mental health services to be raided to plug financial black holes and to pay for other NHS priorities. These pressures are set to get worse.”
Defending her plans, May stated that she was announcing “the biggest change to the law on mental health treatment in over three decades”.