Treat mental and physical health equally: campaign

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Numerous high-profile signatories have urged the government to ‘treat mental health equally with physical health’.

The cross-party, cross-society Equality for Mental Health campaign urges the government to increase investment into mental health services. Signatories are concerned that huge numbers of people with mental health problems do not have access to treatment, with many ‘ending up in prison cells rather than hospital when going through a mental health crisis.’

The campaign letter stated: ‘We accept, and urge ministers to accept, that this will require additional investment in mental health services. But we are strongly persuaded that sustained investment in mental health services will lead to significant returns for the Exchequer.’ It continued: ‘The economic argument for a new approach is clear. And so is the human and moral argument.’

The campaign was launched by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, former Labour communications director Alastair Campbell and Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, commented: ‘Mental health services, underfunded for decades, have seen significant cuts over the last few years, at a time when demand is rising. As a result, services in many parts of the country are struggling to cope and people are not getting the help they need. It can’t continue.’

He acknowledged that the government has committed to allocating equal priority to mental and physical health, but emphasized that ‘this can only become a reality with the right resources.’ He continued: ‘We need to see urgent and significant investment in mental health services so that the one in four of us experiencing mental health problems can get the help and support we need.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that more money than ever was being invested into mental health, but added: ‘We are committed to doing more.’