"Better, faster and earlier help for mental health is vital to improve people's lives and represents excellent value for money," Centre for Mental Health deputy chief executive Andy Bell said today.

Responding to the report of the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, published today, Andy Bell said: "Mental ill health affects almost a quarter of us at any one time and costs more than £100 billion a year. Three-quarters of children and adults with mental health problems get no treatment at all. Yet effective early intervention can dramatically improve people’s lives and prevent future distress.

"We welcome the report's call for a greater focus on children's mental health. Children with behavioural problems face a lifetime of ill health and disadvantage. This can be prevented or mitigated through evidence-based parenting programmes yet few families get the help them need when they seek it.

"We welcome the Chief Medical Officer's focus on work. Too many people with mental health problems are given inadequate help to get or keep work. Yet employment can be an integral part of recovery for many people. Better help for people to retain employment and to get timely access to psychological therapy when they become unwell is crucial.

"The report recognises the importance of linking mental and physical health. Some 4.6 million people in England today have a long-term physical condition and a mental health condition. Improving support to people with physical and mental health needs is vital both to improve their health and to cut the £10 billion extra cost to the NHS.

"Mental health and wellbeing should be a major priority in twenty-first century public health. Every joint strategic needs assessment should include robust data about mental health from early childhood to later life. And this should be used to identify priorities for improved promotion, prevention, early intervention and recovery support."