Closing the Gap: Priorities for essential change in mental health

Foreword

In our mental health strategy, No Health Without Mental Health , we set ourselves – and society as a whole – some big challenges. We stated that mental health must have equal priority with physical health, that discrimination associated with mental health problems must end and that everyone who needs mental health care should get the right support, at the right time. We made it clear that tackling premature mortality of people with mental health
problems is a priority. And we recognised that more must be done to prevent mental ill health and promote mental wellbeing.

We stand firmly behind that strategy, and the principles which underpin it – and two years on, the foundations have been laid. In many local areas, there have been real changes to the quality and availability of mental health services. Through the Time to Change campaign, led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, discrimination against people with mental health problems has decreased.

Mental health is moving up the policy agenda across government. Working together to improve outcomes for people with mental health problems is therefore a major policy priority for many government departments; from unemployment to policy on tackling gang culture.

All too often, for example, poor mental health precipitates premature job loss. This is a waste for individuals and for the economy. In addition, we know that not having a job is too often associated with the onset or recurrence of mental health problems and being out of or away from work can sustain the symptoms of mental ill health. Effective support requires a joined-up approach between health and employment services and supportive action by employers.

Mental health was at the heart of the first Mandates to NHS England and Health Education England which set out the Government’s objectives for these organisations. It is also at the heart of the new public health system: mental health is firmly included within local government responsibilities for improving public health. Work led by Public Health England to promote good mental health, prevent mental ill health and improve wellbeing will help make a reality of these ambitions.

These are all hugely positive changes. But many people would, we are sure, agree with our view that things are not changing fast enough. We are not yet making enough of a difference to enough people.

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