News story

Making mental health as important as physical health

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Join the discussion on how to bring mental health care in line with physical health

Following the launch of the government’s new mental health action plan closing the gap: priorities for essential change in mental health, the social care news blog is inviting comments and suggestions on achieving parity of esteem for mental and physical health.

The mental health action plan was launched in London on 20 January 2014 by the Deputy Prime Minister.

The event brought together mental health experts, charities and users of mental health services, and Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb chaired a discussion on bringing mental health care in line with physical health.

Speakers at the event included:

The topics discussed included:

  • what parity of esteem for mental and physical health means to those working in health and care
  • a call for suggestions and insights into how to make this work in practice
  • how the sector, both providers and service users, can encourage parity as the norm
  • how language, not just the process, needs to change
  • how everyone has a role to play in changing social attitudes towards mental illness and championing transformational change

Find out more

Listen to Norman Lamb speaking about the new mental health action plan.

Listen to Professor Peter Fonagy talking about parity of esteem for mental health.

Listen to all the speeches and discussions from the event.

See the storify of the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech.

Mental health action plan

Closing the gap: priorities for essential change in mental health outlines 25 areas for health and care services to take action to make a difference to the lives of people with mental health conditions.

These changes will mean that the system is fairer for people with mental health problems.

Some of the main measures include:

  • giving patients a choice about where they get their mental health care
  • introducing waiting time standards for mental health
  • rolling out the friends and family test to mental health services so patients can give feedback and mental health trusts can take swift action if improvements are needed
  • expanding talking therapies, already helping 600,000 people, so that 300,000 more people will get help
  • providing more support to children with mental health problems, with more talking therapies and better support for children moving from adolescent services into adult services.
  • investing £43 million in pilots on better housing for people with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Mental health problems are common and 1 in 4 people experience stress, anxiety and depression at some point in their lives.

The cost of mental illness is not just counted in the NHS, it also costs the economy over £105 billion every year.