by Iain Roberts on 2 November, 2015
Join the campaign to put mental health on the same level as physical health – sign up now.
This cross-party, cross-society campaign, led by Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb, seeks to bring the reality of mental health treatment into line with the law – which was changed by the Lib Dems in Coalition to give mental health parity with physical health in the NHS.
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As ministers make final decisions on the Spending Review, we urge them to treat mental health equally with physical health. We ask for the same right to timely access to evidence based treatment as those with physical health problems.
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, both by reducing the burden on the NHS through the improved wellbeing of our citizens, and by helping people to stay in, or get back into work.
We note the many comments from ministers and opinion formers acknowledging the huge cost of mental ill health not just to individuals and their families, including veterans of our armed forces, but to the economy as a whole. Some estimates put this cost as high as £100bn a year, spent on visits to A&E, lost jobs, unemployment benefits, homelessness support, police time and even prison places.
So the economic argument for a new approach is clear. And so is the human and moral argument. Because ministers have also accepted that whatever improvements in attitude may have been made in British society, with a greater understanding and awareness of mental ill health, those who experience it still do not get a fair deal from our health services. In effect, they suffer discrimination in our publicly funded NHS. This must be addressed.