The Prime Minister’s historic speech today about mental health must become a watershed moment towards real equality for mental health and a fairer chance in life for people affected by mental illness, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said today.

Responding to the PM’s announcement of additional funding for maternal mental health care, community-based crisis resolution services and liaison mental health teams in hospitals, Sean Duggan said: “Investing in earlier, faster and better quality support for mental health is essential to improve the lives of people across the country and to make the NHS more sustainable in the long term.

“Our research has shown that mental health problems affecting women during and after pregnancy cost society some £8 billion a year. Investing a fraction of that in improved services will prevent suffering among mothers and enhance children’s life chances. Today’s announcement of £290 million over five years goes some way to meeting that need but it will cost £290 million each year to offer the right care to all the women who need it.

“We also know that better crisis care and liaison mental health care in general hospitals will offer better care to people when they most need it at lower cost to the NHS. Good quality liaison psychiatry teams can save hospitals at least £2.50 for every £1 they cost.

“Today’s announcement needs to be the beginning of a new chapter in health care, closing the gap between mental and physical health and getting us closer to the goal of equality for mental health.

“We know that there is still much more to do before we can achieve that goal. We need to bring about dramatic improvements to mental health support for children and young people and to integrating mental and physical health care in communities. We need to complete the job of improving mental health support in the criminal justice system. We need to offer better employment support to people with mental health problems when they want to work. And we need to see a genuinely joined-up approach across government so that all policies, including housing, social security and public health, support our mental health and wellbeing.

“Today for the first time a British Prime Minister has made mental health the main focus of a major speech. This is a landmark moment which we welcome. It is now up to the Government and the NHS to put what it has promised into practice to ensure that the one in four of us who experience mental ill health get the right support from the start to have the fairest possible chance in life.”