I care deeply about mental health issues and ensuring those with depression and mental health problems get the support they need. I actively support Deal's Talk it Out group and Speak Up CIC – local groups which provide crucial support to those with mental health difficulties and help so many in their time of need.
Nationally, we've made good progress in the last five years prioritising mental health care. There is now legal parity of esteem between mental and physical health, as laid out in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. This means mental health conditions are treated with the same importance as physical health. We have also introduced proper waiting times for mental health treatment, including a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks for talking therapy, to ensure there is proper accountability on the NHS for those seeking mental health services. The Crisis Care Concordat, negotiated by the Government, setting out the standards of care people should expect if they suffer a mental health crisis and details how the emergency services should respond.
In terms of funding, the Government has committed £400m since 2011 to support psychological therapies, including depression, for adults, children and young people. A new disability benefit, Personal Independence Payment, is now being introduced, which will allow those with severe mental health conditions to claim the higher rate of disability payment. They will no longer be left on a lower rate, as under the old DLA system.
Many constituents have written to me particularly about mental health care for children and young people. Diagnosing and properly treating mental health difficulties early in life is absolutely crucial. That's why I strongly welcome the £54m that Health Ministers have invested in a dedicated programme for children and young people and established the new Children and Young People's Mental Health and Well-Being Taskforce. At the Budget, the Chancellor has announced, that the Government will invest £1bn over the next five years to start new access standards which will see over 110,000 more children cared for over the next Parliament. Alongside this, the Government will be providing £118m by 2018-19 to complete the roll-out of the Children and Young People's Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies programme.
Finally, I continue to campaign for more mental health services locally in our community. I have organised mental health round table meetings, bring together local doctors, experts and patients, to boost local mental health care. Our local hospitals at Dover and Deal are perfect places to base more mental health treatment and ensure our social services work better with mental health professionals to treat those in need. The sooner we can help those with mental health problems, the more we can help people get on, get back to work and live a better, healthier life.