New Order singer Bernard Sumner: 'Children abandoned over mental health'

Lucy Cotter, arts and entertainment correspondent

New Order's Bernard Sumner believes the "underfunding" of mental health services for young people is "disgusting" and a ticking time bomb for this country.

As the band showcases a new Sky Arts documentary about their work, called Decades, the musician said nearly four decades on from the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis that mental health provisions for young people haven't moved on.

"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."

Sumner continued: "And it's still the same way and it's 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."

Sumner, who was an original band member of Joy Division, said Curtis would have struggled with the pressures that bands now face.

He said: "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.

"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."

Drummer Stephen Morris believes there has been a shift in attitudes and Ian Curtis was affected by the stigmas surrounding mental illness in the 1970s.

He said: "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 70s. 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 airs on Sky Arts this week and follows New Order as they rehearse and stage a number of concerts as part of one of their most acclaimed collaborations with the artist Liam Gillick and a synth orchestra.

It was an idea which started out at the Manchester International Festival and the film gives a rare insight into the band and their creative processes.

Morris admits it was technically difficult to pull off but very satisfying. It also forced them to sit down and listen to all their old material and to reflect on the past.

They also talk about the importance of Manchester. They're are all originally from the city, and Joy Division did their first TV appearance nearly 40 years ago to this day at Granada Studios thanks to Tony Wilson.

Sumner continued: "The boss of our record label, Tony Wilson, who's sadly passed away - when he was alive was also a TV presenter and somehow we wangled to get on his TV show and he was so impressed he bought the band and put us on his label.

"And here we are we've come full circle, we're here at [arts centre] Home on Tony Wilson Way and it's strange how things turned out.

"You would never have thought all this would have happened. Although Tony would have done - he would have had that vision".

Decades airs on Sky Arts on 22 September at 9pm.