Newly-elected Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has outlined plans to offer more support for mental health.
On 5 May, Andy Burnham cruised to victory in the region’s first ever mayoral election, securing Labour’s biggest success on an otherwise damaging day.
Mr Burnham won more than 70% of votes in Manchester itself and thanked supporters for his ‘amazing’ success.
Now the dust has settled, the former Leigh MP has outlined his vision for the next three years in office.
Amongst other things, this includes ensuring parity between mental and physical health services.
During his campaign, he made a pledge for mental health to get equal priority within the NHS.
Mr Burnham said he was worried about children’s mental health services in particular, including a ‘shameful’ lack of treatment for eating disorders.
The mayor plans to slash anti-depressant prescriptions in favour of more social and talking therapies such as counselling and exercise.
He told local media: “What I want to pioneer here is a social prescribing scheme that’s really ground-breaking.
“People should be getting counselling, exercise referral, debt advice, and bereavement support.
“We’re over prescribing at the moment. There’s a huge budget for prescribing. Someone goes to the GP? Anti-depressants”.
He also pointed out that child and teen mental health services only receive 6% of the mental health budget nationwide.
Mr Burnham, former Secretary of State for Health, had also previously described the child mental health issue as a “national emergency”.
The mayor said he was ‘appalled’ that there is currently no eating disorder services in Greater Manchester.
“How can that possibly be right?” he said.
“Any child here who needs help should be treated in Greater Manchester”.
Mr Burnham is also expected to launch 15% of his £110,000 salary into tackling Manchester’s rough sleeping issue.
He also plans to slash travel prices for 16-18 year olds, with the intention of eventually making it completely free.