England’s leading mental health organisations call on all political parties to make mental health a priority in run up to election

22 August 2014

Six of England’s leading mental health organisations have joined forces to produce a manifesto, laying out what the next Government must do to improve the lives of people with mental health problems.

‘A Manifesto for Better Mental Health’ published today, has been written jointly by Rethink Mental Illness, Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Network, Mind and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The manifesto sets out straightforward, practical changes that a future Government could make in order to ensure mental and physical health are valued equally.

Poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105 billion annually in England and business loses £26 billion due to mental ill health every year.

Just 25% of adults with depression and anxiety get any treatment and only 65% of people with psychotic disorder. Demand is also increasing. The number of people being referred to community mental health services went up by 13% in 2013.

Despite the fact that mental health accounts for 23% of the illness, it gets just 13% of the NHS budget and funding has been cut even further for the last three years. The organisations are calling on any future Government to rebalance this funding inequality, to ensure spending reflects demand.

The Manifesto sets out five key priorities for action:

  1. Fair funding for mental health – Commit to real terms increases in funding for mental health services for both adults and children in each year of the next Parliament.
  2. Give children a good start in life – Ensure all women have access to mental health support during and after pregnancy. Raise awareness of mental health by putting it on the national curriculum and training teachers and school nurses. Invest in parenting programmes across England.
  3. Improve physical health care for people with mental health problems – Ensure Government targets for smoking reduction apply equally to people with mental health problems. Create a national strategy to stop people with mental illness dying early, due to preventable physical health problems.
  4. Improve the lives of people with mental health problems – Continue to fund the Time to Change anti stigma campaign. Offer integrated health and employment support to people with mental health conditions who are out of work.
  5. Better access to mental health services – Introduce maximum waiting times for mental health care and support, including psychological therapies. Commit to continued improvements in mental health crisis care, including liaison psychiatry services in all hospitals. Continue to fund liaison and diversion mental health services, working with police and the courts.

Centre for Mental Health Chief Executive Sean Duggan said: “Mental health treatment has for too long been given a lower priority than physical healthcare. Three quarters of children and adults with mental health problems receive no treatment or support for them. We need to reinvest in effective early intervention services, in offering timely treatment when people seek help and in supporting people with mental health problems to recover their lives on their own terms. We know that offering the right help at the right time saves money; we now need to put the evidence into practice across the country.”

Mark Winstanley, CEO of the charity Rethink Mental Illness said: “Mental health must be a top priority for any new administration in 2015. It’s a scandal that people with mental illness still have no legal right to treatment and there are no maximum waiting times. People are waiting months, even years for the most basic care and many are getting no support at all. Successive Governments have failed to seriously tackle this issue, which impacts individual lives, the economy and society at large. We call upon parties across the political spectrum to commit to the simple, practical and affordable actions outlined on our manifesto and improve the lives of millions of people affected by mental illness in Britain.”

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said: “We know that half of all life time mental health problems begin by the age of 14 – therefore we must intervene early to protect and promote children’s mental health and well-being. We are asking the next Government to mandate all schools to put mental health and well-being on the school curriculum and for universal access to mental health support for the one in ten women who experience mental health difficulties during and after pregnancy. Supporting mental health and resilience from the very earliest days of life is critical if we’re going to address the mental health of the whole nation.”

Stephen Dalton, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network, said: “This is a consensus of important voices, not partisan, but acting in the best interest of those who need mental health services now or may do one day. There can be few more important political issues than the mental health and well being of this and future generations.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “Staying mentally healthy is one of the biggest challenges we all face today. There have been welcome promises on mental health in recent years and the main parties say they value mental and physical health equally, but funding for mental health services has faced more severe cuts than other services. Whoever forms our next government must make mental health a priority and ensure that everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets the support they need and the respect they deserve.”

Dr Adrian James, Chair of the Royal Collage of Psychiatrists Parliamentary Committee said: “For far too long the treatment and care for people with mental health problems, and investment in mental health research, has been under-funded and under-valued. The stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems often prevents them from talking about them and seeking help. The NHS Mandate makes it clear that mental health should have parity of esteem with physical health, yet the majority of mental health services have endured a third year of real-terms reductions in funding. We hope that any future Government will take on board these five key priorities for action.”

Tag: Policy

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