A Jewish charity working in mental health broadly welcomed Theresa May’s speech on the subject on Monday, in which the prime minister called for greater action to help young people struggling to cope.
JAMI, based in Edgware, said May’s focus on children and prevention was “important,” after she said schools needed to increase teachers’ awareness and training.
“Any government focus on the improvement of mental health with an emphasis on early intervention for children and young people is to be commended,” said Tanya Harris, JAMI’s head of services.
“Ten percent of those aged 5-16 have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, yet 70 percent do not receive appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. A government focus on the mental health of our children not only in schools but also in the wider community is vital.”
May sought to address professionals’ complaints that too many mental health sufferers end up in hospitals’ Accident and Emergency units, or in police cells, as she touted the idea of crisis cafés – a model the Jewish charity already uses.
The PM, who has been widely criticised for not expounding her vision for how the country will exit the European Union, also announced a national review into mental health provision across the country, led by senior leaders of the charity MIND.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been credited for “innovative” thinking in 2015, when he created the first office of Shadow Minister for Mental Health, but critics say more drastic measures are needed.
This week, JAMI said May’s package of measures in schools, workplaces and communities was to be welcomed, but added that they would wait “to see how this positive announcement will translate into tangible action”.
Mental health professionals, who say that problems such as depression cost the economy £105 billion annually, have long sought ‘parity of esteem,’ whereby mental health is given equal priority to physical health.
Among the announcements JAMI said it was particularly pleased to hear was May’s mention of ‘Mental Health First Aid’ delivery in schools, which the charity said it had been rolling out for three years.