New Order frontman Bernard Sumner has strongly criticised the state of funding for mental health services in Britain, branding the neglect as “disgusting” and urging that it be addressed quickly.

With the band gearing up to promote a new Sky Arts documentary film about the band’s 40 years of work as both New Order and Joy Division, titled Decades and which airs later this week, Sumner reflected on the fate of Joy Division’s late singer, Ian Curtis, and spoke about what provisions there currently are in the UK for people with both mental health issues and epilepsy – from which Curtis struggled before his suicide in 1980.

“I'm not just talking about epilepsy but mental health issues for young people especially school kids it's criminally underfunded,” he told Sky News. “When the coalition government, after the banking crisis in 2008, formed they underfunded the NHS and they completely underfunded help for young people with mental issues.”

“It's still the same way and its young kids at school that really, really need help and they've just been abandoned. And that's going to create a time bomb for this government and this country - attention needs to be brought to it. It's disgusting.”

Bernard SumnerNew Order's Bernard Sumner

The 62 year old frontman also spoke about how the industry has changed in the four decades since Joy Division first launched their career in Manchester in the late ‘70s. He doubted whether Curtis would have been able to withstand the pressures of stardom and relentless touring if he had not taken his own life.

“It's obviously incredibly sad what happened and we wish Ian could have been around to enjoy all of this. But to be honest, I don't think his health was intact enough for him to be able to stand the rigours of touring, because it can be pretty punishing,” Sumner reflected. “It can be pretty tough, pretty exhausting and I don't think Ian's health was in a fit state to do any of that so there would have been some kind of implosion that happened.”

Stephen Morris, the band’s drummer and also a founding member of Joy Division, added his thoughts.

“Ian had epilepsy and it's an illness people have got much better at understanding nowadays and it's great that people are aware of all kinds of mental illness from getting really depressed to schizophrenia.”

“It's much better understood than it was in the 1970s. And I think that kind of attitude affected Ian a little bit, because he had it and he knew that that was an attitude that existed at the time, and thank God we've moved on a bit.”

Decades is broadcast on Sky Arts on Saturday 22nd September at 9pm.

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