Theresa May, British Prime Minister, on Wednesday, announced health minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, as the country’s Minister for Suicide Prevention.
The initiative comes months after May appointed the Britain’s minister for loneliness, as part of a new push to tackle mental health issues.
Doyle-Price in her new role, will lead government efforts to cut the number of suicides and overcome the stigma that prevents people with mental health problems from seeking help.
While suicide rates have dropped in recent years in the country, about 4,500 people still take their own lives each year in England; remaining the leading cause of death for men under age 45, according to government research.
“We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence,” May said on Wednesday at a Downing Street reception to commemorate World Mental Health Day.
“We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives. And we can give the mental well-being of our children the priority it so profoundly deserves.”
Lorna Heather, a 22-year-old mother of two, said that after she received a diagnosis of anxiety disorder from her doctor in May 2017, she had to wait for eight months before she got an appointment for therapy with a specialist.
“Some days I got so anxious, I locked myself in a room for hours and just thought about killing myself,”Heather said in an interview.
“I came very close.”
“I wanted help, and I received some counseling from local charities, but my condition was more severe than the help they could offer me.”
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, acknowledged on that mental health services had been short of resources as he began a new initiative to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health.
“The truth is that for an awful longtime, mental health has simply not had the same level of support, both in terms of resources and how the public talk about it and wr want to change that.
“By appointing a minister for suicide prevention, the government wants to ensure that mental health is made a priority as new funding is injected into the National Health Service”, Hancock stated.
The prime minister pledged additional support for mental health services for children and youths, with a new recruitment drive for specialist teams to tackle issues in schools and to provide tools to measure students’ mental well-being.
May also announced funding for the Samaritans’ help line, a free, confidential 24-hour phone line that provides help for those with suicidal thoughts and other mental health issues.