Prime Minister Theresa May is to launch a major campaign in the West Midlands to teach people about mental health.
She is announcing that the government’s new campaign to train a million people in mental health awareness – Every Mind Matters – will launch with a pilot in the West Midlands ahead of a national rollout next Spring.
It's part of a drive to improve mental health nationwide, and to cut the suicide rate.
Other measures include new funding for the Samaritans’ helpline, the appointment of the first UK Minister for Suicide Prevention and plans for an annual ‘State of the Nation’ report on young people’s mental wellbeing.
The first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit will also be held in London this week.
Speaking at a Downing Street reception to mark World Mental Health Day, Mrs May is expected to say: "There are few greater examples than the injustices facing those with mental health conditions. But together we can change that.
"We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence. We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives. And we can give the mental wellbeing of our children the priority it so profoundly deserves."
New Government funding of up to £1.8 million will help ensure the Samaritans’ helpline remains free, providing immediate and lifesaving support to everyone who needs it, 24 hours a day.
Mrs May is to appoint health minister Jackie Doyle-Price as the UK’s first Minister for Suicide Prevention. Around 4,500 people take their own lives each year in England and suicide remains the leading cause of death for men under 45.
In her new role, the minister will lead government efforts to cut the number of suicides and overcome the stigma that stops people seeking help.
Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, and recruitment has begun for new mental health support teams who will work with schools to ensure young people with mental health issues get the help they need. Trainees will begin studying in January and join schools across England next year;
Starting in 2019, the Government will publish a ‘State of the Nation’ report every year on World Mental Health Day, highlighting the trends and issues in young people’s mental well-being.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to host the first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London, attended by ministers and representatives from over 50 countries as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
In a landmark agreement, countries at the summit are expected to support a global declaration today to achieve equity for mental health – the first time national governments have come together on this scale to pledge to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health.
Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, said: "In my time as health minister I have met many people who have been bereaved by suicide and their stories of pain and loss will stay with me for a long time.
“It’s these people who need to be at the heart of what we do and I welcome this opportunity to work closely with them, as well as experts, to oversee a cross-Government suicide prevention plan, making their sure their views are always heard."
Responding to the new Government funding, Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: "We welcome the Government’s announcement of funding towards Samaritans’ helpline, which will meet around 10 per cent of the total helpline costs for the next four years and help us to continue to provide our service free of charge."