Theresa May admits UK mental health services are 'patchy'

Theresa May

Theresa May says the UK's mental health services are "patchy" and has told Newsbeat she's going to review them.

She's pledged to support teenagers through a new strategy and better access to help.

"The National Citizens Service will build in mental health awareness," the prime minister explained.

She added that "10,000 members of staff" will be trained in "spotting issues around mental health".

Theresa May
Image caption Sixteen-year-olds will get the chance to join the NCS awareness scheme from next year

Labour's accused ministers of letting a generation of young people down and not funding services properly.

But Theresa May denies there's a big problem with mental health provision in the UK.

Theresa May
Image caption The outdoor scheme is designed to help teenagers spot the signs that their friends are struggling

"A few weeks ago I was visiting a school in Bristol, where I was talking to young people.

"I saw some of the first sets of training that we're doing for teachers and staff in schools so they can better identify when young people have mental health problems and to know what is the right support to give to those young people."

More than 6,000 mental health nurses and doctors have been cut from the NHS in England since 2010.

A survey of NHS trusts earlier this year also suggested that mental health services in England risk being overwhelmed by a combination of rising demand and staff shortages.

The prime minister says they're not being complacent.

"One of the reasons I've made mental health a priority is precisely because I think that there are issues," says Theresa May.

"Over the years we haven't given mental health the same focus in our national health service and other services as I think is necessary.

Theresa May

"Intervening early for young people is important. We've increased the number of mental health beds for young people and we're putting record amounts of funding into mental health in the national health service.

"But of course, what we do need to ensure is that we are raising that awareness and seeing that support there.

"That's why one of the things I've been doing is actually looking at the community mental health services for young people and reviewing that across the country because it is patchy.

"You do see different approaches being taken, so I don't pretend that we've done everything we need to do but I think raising awareness is one of the key issues we all need to address."

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