It is seven years since the Health and Social Care Act said the NHS would give mental health parity with physical health – setting out an ambition that mental health should always be treated with the same priority and value as physical health. Since this time, there is no doubt we have seen significant progress in mental health policy.
Our Manifesto for Better Mental Health, published before the 2017 General Election, highlighted where urgent improvements were needed. Since then we have seen welcome improvements in several of these areas.
- A commitment to implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and the publication of data to measure progress against these recommendations.
- Mental health being made a central priority in the NHS Long Term Plan, including vital additional funding for mental health services and an important focus on prevention and addressing health inequalities.
- A full independent review of the Mental Health Act, with a commitment to publish a White Paper by the end of 2019.
- Ongoing government support for the Time to Change campaign to tackle stigma and discrimination against people with mental health problems.
- Commitment to supporting people with mental health problems at work by implementing the recommendations from Thriving at work: a review of mental health and employers.
- The appointment of the first Minister for Suicide Prevention.
Mental health is now clearly established as a national priority. However, when fewer than four in ten people who need support are accessing mental health services, there is still a long way to go on the road to equality.
Our country’s progress on mental health is fragile. Taking concerted action to improve the nation’s mental health is the work of a generation. It’s going to take the sustained commitment and leadership of government to get us there. And at a time when more and more people are speaking out about their mental health and demanding better support, the next government cannot afford not to listen.
In this manifesto, we set out five areas that the next government must address in order to improve the lives of people with mental health problems and promote the mental health of the nation. By addressing these areas, the new government will lead the way towards mental health equality and bring us closer to the ambition of a fair deal for mental health.
Priorities for the next Prime Minister:
- Take action to prevent mental illness
- Create a cross-government plan for mental health and establish a ‘mental health in all policies’ approach across government
- Reform the Mental Health Act
- Ensure everyone can access the right mental health support, in the right place, at the right time
- Build a mental health workforce fit for the future
This report is from the Mental Health Policy Group (of which the Mental Health Foundation is a member).
Mental Health Policy Group (MHPG)
The Mental Health Policy Group (MHPG) is an informal coalition of six national organisations working together to improve mental health through policy influencing activities at the national level.
Towards equality for mental health: developing a cross-government approach
This report considers in more detail the steps that must be taken if the ambition of ‘parity of esteem’ for mental health is to be achieved in England.