Boris Johnson criticised by charity for linking mental health with violent crime

‘So many of the problems of youth crime and violent crime are associated with mental health problems’, prime minister says in ‘People’s PMQs’ video

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 14 August 2019 22:54
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Boris Johnson claims violent crime is associated with mental health problems

The prime minister has been criticised for broadly linking mental health issues to various kinds of crime across the UK.

Mental health charity Mind, said Boris Johnson should exercise caution in the associating violent crime with mental health problems and pointed out that people who suffer from mental health problems are more likely to be at risk themselves than the other way round.

Mr Johnson was speaking during his first Facebook Live “People’s PMQs”, in which he answered questions from the public.

Karl in Stourbridge apparently asked the prime minister whether he agreed “mental health services are a cornerstone of modern Britain’s health needs”, and what Mr Johnson would do to protect and advance them.

In responding to the question, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve been doing a lot in the last few days about crime, trying to tackle crime, but so many of the problems of crime and youth crime and youth violence and indeed crime of all kinds, are associated with mental health problems.

“I’m absolutely certain that what you need to do to help tackle mental health issues is for every aspect of the state that has a care for mental health patients of all kinds, is they all need to get together.”

Mr Johnson added: “Social services, housing, the police, the council, probation services, whatever, you need to have wrap around care for people with mental health problems. We need to escalate the issue and be much less afraid as a society of talking about mental health problems.”

Louise Rubin, parliamentary manager at Mind, said: “When it comes to comments made on the relationship between crime, violence and mental health, we would urge caution. The vast majority of us experiencing mental health problems are unlikely to ever pose a risk to others. We are far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.

“Greater understanding on these issues is crucial if we are to continue to tackle the stigma and discrimination long attached to mental health problems.”

She added: “We welcome the prime minister’s recognition that in order to improve society’s mental health we need a more joined up approach between all different services – social care, education, housing, welfare, policing and health.

“The first step to providing ‘wrap around care’ is to establish a cross-government strategy, which puts mental health at the heart of every department’s agenda. This strategy must sit alongside previous commitments to improve mental health services as outlined in the NHS Long Term plan. With so many of us still being let down by the services meant to help us, urgent action is needed to improve people’s day-to-day lives.”

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