High Profile Backing for Mental Health Equality Call

Wednesday, November 4th 2015

A campaign has been launched to appeal for a rise in mental health services and funding in England.

More than 200 celebrities, including Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, are behind the motion for mental health to be treated with the same level of seriousness as physical illnesses.

The campaign was launched by former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and former mental health minister Norman Lamb.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that though treatment has made ‘great strides’, more could still be done to improve mental health services.

Overall mental health funding was increased in 2014/15 to £11.7bn.

However, Mr Lamb says that, in what he calls a ‘historic injustice’, those with ill mental health don’t have the same access to treatment on a well-timed basis that those with physical illnesses get.

Mr Campbell has been open about his own depression, and Mr Lamb’s son was diagnosed with OCD when he was 15 years old.

In 2012, the NHS became officially responsible for making sure the care standard for mentally ill patients was equal the standards of care for physically ill patients.

In spring this year, the government provided an additional £1.25bn, mainly for children’s mental health for the next five years.

The campaign says that not enough has been done to tackle the continuous inequality in the funding and care standards of mental health.

As three in four mentally ill children don’t receive any treatment at all, the campaign highlights a lack of treatment access.

Concerns have also been raised about people being moved around too much, for example placing children in wards for adults.

For people with mental health problems, the life expectancy remains 20 years lower than for the general population.

Mr Lamb feels that a change of mindset is necessary. He said if it is treated and discussed like any other illness, the taboos and stigma will begin to break.

Graham Norton, Ian Wright and Frank Skinner are just some of the high profile names to back the campaign, along with several supporters who have spoke about their own experiences with depression, including Emma Thompson and Ruby Wax.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of charity Mind, accepts that the NHS is currently under pressure. However, he said that when people don’t get the correct help at the right time, they are at risk of becoming more unwell and needing more expensive and intensive treatment later on.

Campaigners do acknowledge that progress has taken place in this area, but say the levels of investment do not match that of physical health investment.

According to Jeremy Hunt, the government has invested more money in mental health than ever before.