A group of more than 200 politicians, celebrities, business leaders and sports people has today made a clear and powerful call for fairer funding for mental health care in England. It is a call that people living with mental health conditions and others have been making for many years, but no less welcome at a time of ever-increasing pressures on public service budgets.

The facts about mental health service spending to some extent speak for themselves. We dedicate just 13% of NHS spending to mental health care yet mental illness accounts for 23% of all ill health. We know that just a quarter of both children and adults with common mental health conditions get any treatment or support for them. And we know that untreated mental illness costs the NHS at least as much again as it spends on mental health care.

But beneath the figures lie the real costs of mental health being sidelined and under-funded. We know that people with long-term physical conditions like diabetes and heart disease die sooner and suffer more complications if they also have depression. We know children with behavioural problems face a lifetime of disadvantage if they don't get early help. And we know that too many people with mental health conditions lose their jobs and get little effective help to find work. The cost for many thousands of people is counted in harder, poorer and shorter lives.

But research from Centre for Mental Health and many others has shown that it need not be this way. We know that there are highly cost-effective interventions for a wide range of mental health conditions. We know that offering help when people seek it can be life-changing. From better perinatal mental health care and evidence-based parenting programmes to liaison psychiatry teams in hospitals and Individual Placement and Support for people seeking work, we know that good investment will make a big difference to people's lives.

We have more research to do where the evidence is still poorly developed, and more investment in mental health research is urgently needed. But that should not stop us taking action now to heed the call for equality for mental health nationwide.

Sign the petition at www.equality4mentalhealth.uk
Support our work to further the call for parity of esteem.