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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Britain appoints first ever minister for suicide prevention

The announcement coincides with this year’s World Mental Health Day

British Prime Minister Theresa May says there should be a 'true parity' between mental and physical health. EPA
British Prime Minister Theresa May says there should be a 'true parity' between mental and physical health. EPA

British Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed the world’s first minister for suicide prevention to lead efforts to lift the stigma and encourage more people to seek mental health support.

Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price is set to take up the new role which will attempt to tackle the issues that result in more than 6,000 people killing themselves every year.

The appointment comes as ministers and officials from more than 50 countries assemble in London on Wednesday for a summit to mark World Mental Health Day, hosted by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and attended by Prince William and his wife Catherine.

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is “young people and mental health in a changing world”. The World Health Organisations found that half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14, but in most cases they go undetected and untreated.

"We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives," Mrs May said, adding that there should be “true parity” between mental and physical health.

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Read more:

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The government also vowed to increase its support in schools, bringing in new mental health teams to measure students' health, including their mental well-being.

Depression, a common mental disorder and one of the main causes of disability worldwide, affects an estimated 300 million people, the majority of which are women. The London government has put aside £1.8 million for an anti-suicide campaign plan.

In 2013, the World Health Assembly approved a "Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for 2013-2020" according to which all WHO’s Member States commit to taking action to improve mental health and to contribute to the attainment of a set of global targets.