"The NHS has been given a clear mandate to tackle the longstanding and long outdated disparity between mental and physical health care today," Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said today.
Responding to the publication of the NHS Mandate, Sean Duggan said: "The Government has sent an unambiguous message to the NHS today about the importance of giving equal priority to mental and physical health.
"It is now up to the NHS, both nationally and locally, to take action to tackle the disparities that exist between mental and physical health care.
"That means taking urgent action to improve the physical health of people with severe mental illness, whose life expectancy lags 15-20 years below average. It means finishing the job of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, for children and adults alike and particularly for those who are out of work, those in the criminal justice system and those with long-term physical conditions or with medically unexplained symptoms. And it means that supporting people in their personal recovery journeys must become central to mental health care, with services working around the individual rather than vice versa.
"The Mandate also sets a longer term challenge to the NHS to give people with mental health conditions the same entitlement to treatment and choice as those with a physical illness. For too long access to mental health care has played second fiddle. Rights to NICE-approved treatments, waiting times and choices have all been weaker than in physical health care. The Mandate must be the starting point for concerted action to put these right."