The chancellor’s £2bn pledges are a step forward – yet even more funding for early intervention is critical

Mental health crisis support in all A&E departments, as the chancellor, Philip Hammond, set out in the budget, is critical. The almost fivefold increase in young people showing up at A&E with psychiatric problems in the past decade makes the case for this clearly.

But why should people with mental illness be able to access care only when they feel they have nowhere to turn but A&E? Lara Ferguson’s case proves this. Her case was highlighted in a report by the Centre for Mental Health, which revealed that young people are waiting for months, if not years, for help. When Lara was 15, she consulted her GP about depression but was told it was probably just a “normal teenage problem” and that she should visit self-help websites. Lara’s school tried to refer her to child and adolescent mental health services because she was self-harming, but was told the only way to access specialist services was through A&E.

Related: Mental health services to get £2bn funding boost in budget

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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26 March 2019