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Mental health organisations publish consensus for long-term plan

Over 30 national mental health organisations have published a long-term  plan for England setting out measures for reforms and a better and more equitable mental health service.

Over 30 national mental health organisations have published a long-term plan for England setting out measures for reforms and a better and more equitable mental health service.

A Mentally Healthier Nation, published by Centre for Mental Health, draws on evidence provided to the UK government’s consultation on its proposed ten-year plan to identify the actions that are necessary to protect people’s mental health, reduce mental health inequalities, and improve mental health services nationwide.

The coalition of charities are calling for urgent action to reduce the 20-year life expectancy gap for people with severe mental illness, an end to ‘hostile environment’ policies, and a fairer benefits system.

The report also calls for further investment in mental health services, building on the start made in the first five years of the NHS Long Term Plan. It says we need to fund mental health and social care services fairly, set new access standards to end long waits for essential services, and modernise the Mental Health Act.

Long-term plan to create better mental health for all

Centre for Mental Health chief executive Andy Bell said: “The public’s mental health has deteriorated since the start of this decade. More and more people are seeking help for their mental health. Even with recent growth in NHS mental health services, care is being rationed because the system is overwhelmed. We have to turn this around.

“A comprehensive cross-government plan could help to improve the nation’s mental health while also boosting mental health services. It could tackle the causes of distress to protect people’s mental health, while also ensuring people living with a mental health difficulty are treated fairly in society. This cannot wait. We call on the government to act now and on all political parties at the next General Election to commit to a long-term plan to create better mental health for all.”

The report says that by effectively addressing social determinants (like poverty and discrimination), and environmental factors (including housing and pollution), more patients can have better mental health. Investing in more powerful public health infrastructure is also key to preventing illness and promoting better health.

It also aims to improve people’s security by ensuring everyone can afford a healthy life with enough money and a decent home. This should include instituting a Minimum Income Guarantee, reforming sick pay legislation, and providing more social rent homes.

Dr Lade Smith CBE, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, added: “Years of underfunding and lack of investment in mental health services has left many people without the life-changing and life-saving support they need. The cost-of-living crisis is taking a toll on people’s mental health with a sharp rise in demand for mental health services, which are already struggling to meet the needs of the 1.4 million people waiting for community-based mental health care.

“This is not a problem that will fix itself, mental illness must be treated with the same urgency and attention as physical illness, starting with a detailed roadmap that values people with mental health problems as much as it does those with physical health problems, that truly delivers parity of esteem. To do this we need an ambitious cross-government strategy for mental health and mental health services.  This report provides a strong set of recommendations to support this goal. This includes building a sustainable mental health workforce, requiring additional funding and not just reallocations from existing stretched budgets, expanding access to mental health support for children and young people and tackling long waits for all ages. The blueprint to change lives for the better is here, the Government must use it.”


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