Lib Dems announce campaign for NHS to set ‘zero suicide’ goal

Labour and the Liberal Democrats will on Monday launch initiatives on mental health, with Nick Clegg promising to sign up the NHS to a national “zero suicide” campaign while Ed Miliband highlights the need to switch more NHS spending on mental health to children.

Both parties have timed their mental health policy launches to coincide with Blue Monday – a marketing invention based on a bogus equation to calculate supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The decision will be controversial because Blue Monday’s media profile has been blamed for trivialising depression.

Clegg is hosting a mental health conference at the offices of the King’s Fund health thinktank, at which he will say “Suicide is, and always has been, a massive taboo in our society. People are genuinely scared to talk about it, never mind intervene when they believe a loved one is at risk.

“That’s why I’m issuing a call to every part of the NHS to commit to a new ambition for zero suicides. We already know that this kind of approach can work in dramatically reducing suicides.”

“It is doing more in every area of our society to ensure that people don’t get to that point where they believe taking their own life is their only option,” Clegg will say.

Labour’s report highlights that just 6% of the mental health budget is spent on children, even though three-quarters of mental illness in adults begins before the age of 18.

Ed Miliband also calls for an expansion of talking therapies, working towards a 28-day waiting-time standard for access to both adult and young people’s talking therapies. Miliband also proposes that schools should work together to ensure that all children can access school-based counselling or therapy if they need it, including by giving teachers training in how to help with children’s mental health.

The Guardian