Mental health should be valued and understood as a key that allows us to unlock a wide range of health, social and economic benefits. When this resource is damaged, it leaves us unable to reach our individual and collective potential. The next UK government can make positive changes towards this critical goal of achieving better mental health for all.
Over recent years there has been a welcome increased focus on mental health. However, much remains to be done. Every week in England, one in six adults experiences a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, and, at some point in their lives, one in five adults has considered taking their own life. In 2017, 65% of people surveyed said that they have experienced a mental health problem in their lifetime; this figure rose to 71% amongst young people aged 18-34. Mental health problems cost the UK economy 4.1% of GDP each year.
It is unlikely that mental health services could ever cope with current demand; mental health problems are already amongst the biggest causes of disability and illness in the UK. The huge and growing prevalence of mental health problems places an unsustainable strain on NHS services and a crucial part of the solution is to reduce the levels of mental distress in society by acting to prevent mental health problems and reduce the risk factors associated with their development. The rates of preventable poor mental health would be considered unacceptable in any other area of health. Now is the time to develop a comprehensive, cross-government action plan that tackles the root causes of mental health problems and improves the wellbeing of the nation.
Over the next few years, we believe that the most effective way to make progress against these challenges is by taking action on five fronts:
- A cross-government plan to address the social, economic and other contextual factors that lead to poor mental health
- Supporting a mentally healthy start for children
- Resourcing local authorities to fulfil their public mental health role
- Assessing current resourcing, coverage and need for preventative mental health interventions
- Supporting schools, health services, prisons, social welfare and housing services to be ‘trauma-informed’
Mental Health Policy Group manifesto
The Mental Health Foundation is a member of the Mental Health Policy Group, a coalition of six national organisations working together to improve mental health. This manifesto reflects areas of shared ambition and common concern across the six organisations.
Health inequalities manifesto 2018
People living in the least deprived areas of England live around 20 years longer in good physical and mental health than people in the most deprived areas.