This is a full transcript of my Talksport interview with Nick Clegg:
SD - Deputy Prime Minister, what are you announcing today?
NC - We’re announcing more money, £400m to make sure that people who presently don’t’ have access to the so called talking therapies, which help them with their mental health problems, whether it’s eating disorders, anxiety, depression and so on, have access to that, because I think for far too long, we’ve treated mental health issues, almost with a sense of shame when there are so many people in this Country who are effected by mental health issues. We should lift the stigma around this and treat mental health issues in exactly the same way that we treat physical health issues in the NHS.
SD - Is this new funding, or does it come from the Health Budget, and through efficiency savings?
NC - Well it’s obviously within the Health Budget, but it is £400m of money which we’re allocating towards those talking therapies. Our estimate is that it will allow over a million people, 1.2 million more people to have access to those talking therapies, especially children. I don’t think as a Country, really we're good enough at really reaching out to children when they’re starting to develop mental health problems, at exactly the point when we can give them the most help, and prevent them being pitched in to a lifetime of mental health issues, and so it will make a big big difference to those many, many thousands of people who at the moment aren’t being given the support that they need.
SD - For talkSPORT’s Military Constituency, you’re making pledges that you’re going to look after British Military personnel when they return home, and maybe if they need it further down the line. What does this mean in practical terms?
NC - Well it means in practical terms that for instance there will be a mental health check as part of the medical checks that are made when you are on the frontline, and when you are in Military Service. It means that when you come back from Military Service, and lets remember , it’s often at that point that Veterans face the toughest battle - it’s when they actually come off the battle field and they’re having to deal with their own mental health conditions. So we’re training more people to act as outreach professionals who can help them, we’re providing more support to online information so they know where to go, and we’re trying to raise the profile of this issue so that GP’s and others look out for the interests’ of Veterans and don’t, some how, try and ignore them. It’s sometimes quite difficult for anybody, but especially for Veterans, given the very brave and extraordinary things that they’ve done to talk about their own mental health problems as they evolve and come back.
SD - Lastly Deputy Prime Minister, you and I have spoken in the past about the Prisons in the United Kingdom, all of which I would suggest have a Constituent within who are more mentally ill than criminal. Does your announcement today address this problem, and if it doesn’t, how will you address this very real problem moving forward?
NC - We’ve made previous announcements about this to make sure that the NHS, the mental health professionals and prison authorities work more effectively together, because you’re quite right, there’s no point simply putting someone in to prison because they’ve committed a crime, which is partly driven because of their mental health conditions’. Of course they need to be put behind bars and punished, but there’s no point not then treating them because they’ll simply come out of prison and commit more crime, and sometimes worse crime. What I’m interested in is to see crime cut, and the way to do that is not only to put people behind bars, but to make sure that when they’re in prison, they’re treated for any underlying problems so they don’t become repeat offenders once they leave prison. That’s the goal we’re aiming at, and we’ve made a number of announcements which I think will make that a reality.
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