Access and waiting time standards for mental health are a vital first step to parity Responding to the Deputy Prime Minister's announcement of a new five year plan for improving access to NHS mental health treatment, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said today: "We warmly welcome the Government's commitment to produce waiting time standards for mental health services. This is a vital step towards creating parity of access to mental health care and to overcoming the 'institutional bias' in the NHS. The provision of additional funding to invest in crisis care and early intervention should help to overcome the current postcode lottery in access to these essential health services."Today's announcement is an important stepping stone to achieving some of the objectives of the Government's strategy, No Health Without Mental Health. It sets an ambition for the next five years to ensure people of all ages have the same access to mental health treatment as we have now to other kinds of health care. It is crucial that this is backed up with an equal entitlement to treatments approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to ensure that effective interventions are offered to all those who can, and should, benefit from them."We know that providing timely, effective treatment for a range of mental health conditions improves health and is excellent value for money. The NHS spends as much on the costs of not treating mental health problems as it does on all mental health care. This includes some £10 billion on extra care for people with long-term conditions who also have a mental health problem. Supporting better access to care will make the whole system more efficient as well as being more equitable. Targeted reinvestment in evidence-based prevention, early intervention, crisis care and recovery support can make a big difference to people's lives."