Prime minister Theresa May has pledged to help schools and companies "transform" attitudes to mental health problems.
In a speech to the Charity Commission May said she will instigate a review on improving support in the workplace, led by mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind.
Research from Mind states that around one in six UK workers experience a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression, and one in four people will experience a mental health issue each year. ACAS estimates that mental health problems cost UK employers £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence.
“For too long mental illness has been something of a hidden injustice in our country, shrouded in a completely unacceptable stigma and dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health,” May said. “Yet left unaddressed it destroys lives, it separates people from each other, and deepens the divisions within our society.
“I want us to employ the power of government as a force for good to transform the way we deal with mental health problems right across society, and at every stage of life.”
Additionally, the government plans to expand treatment by investing in and extending digital mental health services. More than £67 million will be spent on a digital mental health package so that people worried about mental health issues can go online, check their symptoms and access therapy.
Farmer welcomed the announcement. “It’s important to see the prime minister talking about mental health, and it shows how far we have come in bringing the experiences of people with mental health problems up the political agenda,” he said.
“Mental health is everyone’s business and we need to see sustained leadership to make sure services and support improve for all of us with mental health problems. Having been neglected for decades, we need to see it made a priority for decades to come to make sure everyone with mental health problems can live the life they want to lead.”