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Theresa May gets behind digital mental health services



Prime minister allocates £67.7 million as part of broad initiative to support mental wellbeing

The Government is to lay out £67.7 million to increase the use of digital services in mental healthcare, the prime minister has announced.

Theresa May included the pledge in her keynote speech to the Charity Commission’s annual general meeting, which has been heavily flagged as an early step in laying down the strategic direction of her leadership.

In a speech that included a strong emphasis on the importance of mental wellbeing in the population – along with an acknowledgement of public disillusionment with the political system and economic developments of recent years – May said that mental health has provided one of the “burning injustices” of British society.

She outlined a series of measures to deal with this, including the provision of funds for relevant digital services.

Online therapy potential

While she provided little detail on how the money would be spent, she said: “Online therapy has the potential to transform the way mental health services are delivered by allowing people to check their symptoms, be triaged online and receive clinically assisted therapy over the internet much more quickly and easily, assuming it is clinically appropriate.

“These treatments have been tested in other countries and they work. In the right cases, they can offer access to treatment far quicker than traditional services.”

The mental wellbeing initiative also includes an effort to look at how GP forms can exacerbate problems relating to mental health and debt.

Other elements are: £10 million for the Think Ahead programme, aimed at increasing the number of high calibre mental health social workers; £15 million for community facilities; new approaches to training for school teachers to spot mental illness in children; an effort to break the stigma around mental illness in the workplace; and a cross-government suicide prevention strategy.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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