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Mental Health in the Spotlight

There was a time when mental health illnesses were not discussed. Now mental health is a subject that people are becoming less afraid to broach due to the work of campaigners and charities. With one in four people suffering from mental illness in the UK, the positivity surrounding the step to seek help is of course massively beneficial to anyone suffering from a mental health illness.

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Resources are stretched

A BBC Radio 5 live investigation found that out of 39 mental health trusts that provided figures for their crisis team, 27 of the trusts had seen their workload increase by 70%. This is a vast increase and one that the present number of staff cannot cope with. Resources are stretched and medical professions are unable to provide the level of care that they could with a lower amount of patients.

Last year NHS England reported that the majority of crisis teams "are not currently sufficiently resourced to operate 24/7, with caseloads above levels that allow teams to fulfil their core functions."

Calls for increased staff recruitment

Jeremy Hunt has today recognised that there has been a historical imbalance between mental and physical health services but this now needs to change. There is to be a recruitment drive with enough nurses, therapists and consultants to treat an extra one million patients by 2020-21 with the main focus on child and adolescent mental health services.

Although in principle this increase in recruitment and resources can only be seen as positive, it does nothing to tackle the people that are suffering right now. It is still going to take at least three years for this to be implemented and the amount of unfilled nursing posts has recently been published which is frankly quite startling.

A step in the right direction

With the plan to recruit 9,700 extra staff, it begs the question of where all of these staff will come from? It is unclear how within the three year time frame, this many people will be qualified or be at a level to provide Consultant care.

Mr Hunt acknowledges that this is an ambitious task and would be one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe. Professor Wendy Burn who is President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists "is very supportive of the strategy which starts to tackle the problem."

With the NHS making many cuts across the board, it feels that mental health has been an area that has previously been pushed aside. It is now in the spotlight and hopefully the plan put forward by Mr Hunt will be fulfilled and help thousands of people that need the support across the UK.

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