Sainsbury Centre welcomes Marmot Review's focus on mental health and calls for better measures of inequality

11 February 2010

"Sir Michael Marmot's report on the root causes of inequality in health rightly calls for concerted action to break the link between ill health, poverty and social exclusion," Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health joint chief executive Dr Bob Grove said today.

Responding to Fair Society, Healthy Lives, the report of the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post-2010, Dr Bob Grove said: "People with mental health problems are too often denied the same chances as everyone else in education and employment. Having a severe mental illness can cut your life expectancy by some 10 years. And people from disadvantaged families and communities face a disproportionate risk of having mental health problems. This is as big a public health issue as smoking or obesity.

"We particularly welcome the report's call for action to prevent conduct problems among children, because of the dramatic effect they have on a child's life chances, and its emphasis on the mental and physical health benefits of good quality paid employment. And we agree that tackling inequalities in health demands cross-government action in close collaboration with all public services and their voluntary sector partners."

Sainsbury Centre today also publishes Mental health inequalities: measuring what counts. It calls for better information to be collected and used to measure inequalities in mental health and the life chances of people with mental health problems. It argues that public services do not routinely collect data on mental health inequalities and that the information they do collect is not used to its full potential.

Sainsbury Centre head of policy Linda Seymour said: "As there is no health without mental health, there is no equality without mental health equality. But in public services, it's what gets measured that counts. So we need to ensure that we count what matters to the people who use public services. And we need to use the information that is collected, for example about employment rates or the overall health of people with mental health problems, to drive improvements to services. If we do, we will not just improve people's lives but get better value for public money by doing what works and creating a fairer society."

Mental Health Inequalities

Mental Health Inequalities: Measuring what counts cover image This paper is based on a seminar organised jointly by Sainsbury Centre and the Department of Health in 2009.

It argues that public services do not routinely collect data on mental health inequalities and that the information they do collect is not used to its full potential.

It calls for better information to be collected and used.

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