Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to help end mental health stigma, with a focus on children and young people.

Mrs May said she wanted to make sure that ‘children and teenagers get the help and support they need and deserve’ as part of her vision for her ‘shared society’.

Figures show that more than half of mental health problems start by the age of 14 and 75% by 18. The government say one in four people have a mental disorder at some point in their life, with an annual cost of £105bn.

New measures to help schools and support pupils who could be having problems such as anxiety or depression include offering mental health first aid training to secondary schools and helping schools and colleges to link up with mental health experts in their areas.

Mrs May also announced employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off and there will be more focus on community care, such as crisis cafes and local clinics as alternatives to patients visiting GPs and A&E.

Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of mental health charity Sane, said: “Mrs May’s emphasis on stigma, without commitment to ring-fenced money, will not bring the hoped for revolution in mental health care.

“As she speaks, psychiatric beds are being closed, the patients who contact Sane are turned away from A&E, have no place to go in crisis or are shunted hundreds of miles across the country to obtain treatment.”

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, welcomed Mrs May’s “new and bold vision”, but added: “We have a long way to go before mental health services are on an equal footing with those for physical disorders.”

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