Need for whole-of-society approach to prevent mental illness developing

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One in four people in England will experience a mental health problem in any given year, ranging from anxiety and depression through to more complex conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorder.

The economic and social cost of poor mental health is estimated to be £105 billion a year in England, while the personal costs of living with a mental health problem are indisputably significant.

But for too long people with mental health problems have had to put up with substandard care.

That is why I welcome the publication of NHS England’s five-year plan for mental health which, for the first time, seeks to deliver true equality between mental and physical health.

The Mental Health Taskforce Report was independently chaired by Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity, Mind, and recommends a transformation of NHS mental health services.

Over 20,000 people who live with a mental health problem and/or work in the mental health sector contributed to the report, meaning it is based on first-hand experience and evidence.

The key taskforce recommendations are:

n By 2020/21 one million extra people will be provided with mental health support.

n People facing a crisis should have access to mental health care 24/7.

n People’s mental health and physical health should be treated equally – including people with severe mental health problems, women in the perinatal period, children and young people.

n All areas of society, such as schools, workplaces and community organisations need to contribute to the promotion of good mental health.

n Everyone should get the help they need, irrespective of their background.

To implement the taskforce report, the government is providing an extra £1bn a year. This will enable major improvements in seven day mental health crisis care, a large increase in psychological treatments and a more integrated approach to how services are delivered.

I have written to my local Clinical Commissioning Group as well as Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust to learn how they will be spending the money allocated to transform services in our area.

True mental health, however, cannot be achieved by the NHS alone.

We need a whole-of-society approach to help prevent mental illness developing in the first place.

Respondents to the report clearly stated that decent housing, jobs and good quality relationships in their local communities were crucial to staying well.

I am pleased that the prime minister has met with business leaders to highlight the need for a shift in attitude to people with mental health conditions in the workplace and to agree new workplace standards.