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As government launches new Mental Health Action Plan, what do you think of care in Norfolk and Suffolk?”

PUBLISHED: 11:33 20 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:33 20 January 2014

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Some people with mental health issues are receiving care that is “frankly unacceptable”, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

Nick Clegg said that waiting times are too long, some patients are having to be treated hundreds of miles from home and children are being cared for in adult wards.

“Damaging” face-down restraint is still being used and the NHS is still not doing enough to address the physical health problems of those with mental health difficulties, he said.

Mr Clegg said the health service has a “mountain to climb” but mental health should be given the focus that it deserves.

Launching the Government’s new Mental Health Action Plan, which sets out 25 areas where care will be improved in the health service, Mr Clegg said: “Some people with mental health problems are still being treated in ways that are frankly unacceptable.

“Waiting times for common mental health services are still too long, especially in some areas of the country.

“There have been stories of people of all ages being transferred, sometimes hundreds of miles, to access a bed.

“And some children with severe mental health problems are still being cared for on adult wards.

“Face-down restraint is still being used - despite clear evidence of how damaging it can be.

“And we are still not doing enough to address the often serious physical health problems of those with mental health difficulties.

“We recognise that we have got a mountain to climb... It’s going to take a huge effort to turn that around and give mental health the focus it deserves.”

Speaking at a conference with leading mental health figures in central London, he added: “All too often attitudes to mental health are outdated; stuck in the dark ages; full of stigma and stereotypes.

“It’s time for us to bring mental health out of the shadows and to give people with mental health conditions the support they need and deserve.”

The action plan sets out a series of objectives to increase access to mental health, to promote the integration of physical and mental health care and to improve the quality of life for people with mental health problems.

It states that mental health patients must have better choice over where they go for care.

There will also be “clear” waiting time limits for patients in need of treatment, such as waiting time limits for those with physical problems.

The document, compiled by the Department of Health, also pledges to improve support for new mothers to minimise the risk of post-natal depression.

It also calls for improvements on the transition that young people face when leaving children’s facilities and entering adult ones.

Mr Clegg’s comments come as a new mental illness awareness campaign was launched. Time to Talk encourages people to talk openly about mental illness and get support.

The campaign is led by the Time to Change programme, run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, with the aim of ending the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.

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