Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat former health minister, has pledged to take on the unacceptable lack of progress in tackling young people’s mental ill health.
He joined MPs from all parties in swearing to tackle mental illness at an event in Parliament last week, sponsored by the mental health research charity MQ.
New figures from MQ show that four in 10 (42%) people in the UK have come to believe that mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are now an inevitable part of life, such is the lack of understanding and action around mental health.
84% say that not enough is being done to tackle mental illness for the future, and more than two-thirds of parents (68%) believe that having more education about mental illnesses could prevent suffering for future generations.
Three children in an average class are affected by a diagnosable mental illness. However, many wait for a decade between experiencing their first symptoms and getting help, and only a quarter of young people referred to services receive appropriate care.
Overall only £8 is spent on research per person affected on mental health in the UK, which is 22 times less than per person for cancer (£178) and 14 times less than dementia spend (£110). And despite 75% of mental illness starting before the age of 18, less than 30% of the total mental health research spend is focused on children and young people. As a result, the majority of mental healthcare resources are not designed or developed for young people, leading to poor treatment outcomes in young people and hindering prevention efforts.
Norman Lamb said:
“Mental illness should not be seen as an inevitable part of life. The current state of mental health treatment would simply never be accepted for a physical condition.
“MQ’s ‘We Swear’ campaign aims to make it clear that radical change is needed right now, and asks the public to show they ‘give a s**t’ by swearing to take on mental illness.
“Through research we can get to grips with this growing crisis in young people’s mental health – and build progress towards much-needed hope for everyone affected.”
Swear to take on mental health. Search #WeSwear on social media or visit www.mqmentalhealth.org/we-swear for further information as to how you can help.