Mental health must be a bigger priority says chief medical officer

  • England's chief medical officer has said that mental health needs to have a higher priority and waiting times should have targets and funding should be protected. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    Dame Sally Davies has said there have been signs that funding for mental health services was being cut at a time when the cost to the economy was rising, reports the BBC.

    In an annual report Dame Davies found that mental illness had led to the loss of 70 million working days last year. Due to this she is not only calling on a greater emphasis on mental illness in the NHS but she also wants employers to play a role too.

    Overall mental illness has cost the economy between £70bn and £100bn in lost productivity, benefit payments and absence from work.

    The report also reveals that young people need better access to support as half of adults with mental health problems develop them before the age of fifteen

    Dame Sally said the costs were "astounding" and NHS bosses needed to treat mental health "more like physical health".

    "Anyone with mental illness deserves good quality support at the right time," she said.

    "Underinvestment in mental health services, particularly for young people, simply does not make sense economically."

    Centre for Mental Health deputy chief executive Andy Bell said: "Better, faster and earlier help for mental health is vital to improve people's lives and represents excellent value for money. Mental health and wellbeing should be a major priority in 21st Century public health."

    Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said the CMO's recommendations would be "considered carefully", adding attempts were being made to make mental health more of a priority, including the possibility of introducing targets.

    "I want to build a fairer society where mental health is treated with the same importance as physical health," he said.

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