Nick Clegg visits St Albans

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has returned to St Albans to visit new mental health unit Kingfishe

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has returned to St Albans to visit new mental health unit Kingfisher Court - Credit: photo supplied

With poor mental health treatment becoming a national crisis, a charity has welcomed a promise made by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, during a visit to St Albans, to increase funding for research.

While touring state-of-the-art Kingfisher Court last Monday (4), the Lib Dem leader told a BBC television news crew that the gap between physical health and mental health treatment should be bridged.

He pledged to channel an additional £50 million a year into research by 2020 adding, “I want people who are dealing with depression to be as effectively treated as if they had diabetes.”

Kingfisher Court is a new 86-bed unit for people with a mental health illness or a learning disability, based at the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust’s Kingsley Green site in Harper Lane.

Mr Clegg, who was joined by Lib Dem candidate for St Albans Sandy Walkington, said he was keen to see Britain provide the next breakthrough in mental health research.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said it was “encouraging” to see the issue being prioritised in the upcoming election campaign.

He added: “During the recession we saw the impact on mental health, with a significant increase in antidepressant prescribing and, tragically, the number of people taking their own lives.

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“Consequently poor mental health is becoming a national crisis. At a time when demand has never been greater, we know that severe cuts to services, prolonged waiting times and a lack of choice in treatments are making things worse for people living with mental health problems.”

Paul said that investment in research was vital.