Towards mental health equality: a manifesto for the next prime minister

This report is from the Mental Health Policy Group (of which MHF is a member).

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.

This includes:

  • 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 several Prime Ministers 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 new Prime Minister cannot afford not to listen.

In this manifesto, we set out five areas that the next Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister will lead the way towards mental health equality and bring us closer to the ambition of a fair deal for mental health.

  1. Take action to prevent mental illness
  2. Create a cross-government plan for mental health and establish a ‘mental health in all policies’ approach across government 
  3. Reform the Mental Health Act
  4. Ensure everyone can access the right mental health support, in the right place, at the right time
  5. Build a mental health workforce fit for the future

Download the full manifesto

Read the follow up report: 'Towards equality for mental health'

About The Mental Health Policy Group

The Mental Health Policy Group consists of six national organisations working together to improve mental health: Centre for Mental Health, the Mental Health Foundation, NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This manifesto reflects areas of shared ambition and common concern across the six organisations.