PM warns of social media bullying amid calls to protect NHS mental health budget
Mental health dominated the exchanges between Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Theresa May warned of the dangers of “social media bullying” to children as she faced calls from Jeremy Corbyn to protect NHS mental health budgets.
The Prime Minister said she hoped the Labour leader would join her in saying there is a need to help young people have “greater resilience” in dealing with such bullying, in order to avoid it leading to lifelong problems.
Mr Corbyn replied by saying he hoped the PM would support the Opposition’s push for digital protections, before continuing to raise concerns over “insufficient” funding for mental health services.
He claimed mental health spending fell by £600 million between 2010 and 2015, and asked why “only 6% of the overall budget is spent on children and young people when they make up 20% of our population”.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May said Mr Corbyn was right that a high proportion of mental health problems start before the age of 14.
She added: “That is exactly why we’re doing more in our schools, why we’re working to ensure that we do have that training for teachers.
“But there’s a wider issue here that I’m sure everybody in this House will recognise.
“Because when I go and talk to young people who have developed mental health problems, when I hear from them about the problems they’re facing, sadly one of the issues that puts increasing pressure on the mental health of young people today is the use of social media and the bullying and harassment they get on that social media.
“I hope he will join with me in saying we need both to help our young people have greater resilience in dealing with that social media bullying, but we also need to ensure that we see social media not being used in a way that leads to mental health problems that could well be with those young people for the rest of their lives.”
Corbyn: Mental health spending fell from 2010- 2015. Too often people in crises are dealt with by police or friends. The budget is insufficient. Why is only 6% of overal mentla health budget spendt on children adn young people when they make up 20% of population? #PMQs— Simple Politics (@easypoliticsUK) March 28, 2018
Mr Corbyn replied: “I hope in the light of what the Prime Minister has just said she will support out digital bill which will ensure that there are proper protections for people.”
He raised the case of a young woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and is regarded as a high suicide risk.
Mr Corbyn said: “She was told to wait three months for an appointment. That was cancelled and she had to wait a further three months.
“It is very hard to explain to someone in that situation why they have to wait all those months for an appointment while they’re in a very desperate situation.”
Mr Corbyn went on: “Mental health affects us all and it’s welcome there’s much less stigma surrounding mental health, however, our NHS is in crisis. The crisis is particularly acute in mental health services.
“Despite legislating for parity of esteem, the Government has failed to fund it.
“We have fewer resources for mental health trusts, fewer mental health nurses, fewer child and adolescent psychiatrists.
“So will the Prime Minister commit to ring-fencing NHS mental health budgets to support those going through a mental health crisis at a time they most need our help and our support?”
Labour's approach would mean increased debt, it would mean less money for mental health services and higher taxes for working people Theresa May
Mrs May said the NHS is receiving extra funding for mental health and other services, and said the Government’s “balanced approach” to the economy had enabled this before she took aim at Labour.
She told MPs: “Labour’s approach would mean increased debt, it would mean less money for mental health services and higher taxes for working people – and ordinary working people would pay the price of Labour.”
Mr Corbyn earlier asked Mrs May to explain why there are “5,000 fewer mental health nurses” than in 2010.
He also raised concerns about a health trust fined £2 million after neglect at a care unit led to the “completely avoidable” deaths of two vulnerable patients.
Mr Corbyn paid tribute to the families of Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin who died while in the care of Southern Health NHS Trust and asked: “How confident is the Prime Minister that deaths like Connor’s and Teresa’s could not happen today?”
Mrs May also paid tribute to the families “for the way in which they have campaigned on this particular issue” and said lessons had been learnt by the health and care system as a result of the failings of Southern Health.