The Rt. Hon Theresa May MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
25 October 2018
Dear Prime Minister
We have warmly welcomed your strong leadership on mental health. You have rightly committed to tackling the “burning injustice of mental illness” by delivering “a new approach from government and society as a whole” to achieve parity of esteem and outcomes. And, thanks to your leadership, we have undoubtedly already made progress towards this goal.
Mental health services have seen significant progress in access and quality, as a result of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and its investment. This is a huge achievement. However, this plan was only ever intended to take the first, realistic steps on a journey towards parity, focussing on crucial, but specialist, areas of support for certain groups of people living with mental illness.
We hear far too often from people experiencing mental health problems who are having to wait months, sometimes years, for treatment. This, alongside a lack of sufficient prevention and social care services, mean too many people are reaching crisis point, resulting in lifelong harm to their quality of life, not to mention impacting on NHS and wider public finances.
One person severely impacted by mental illness told us: “My problems were not taken seriously and I ended up as an inpatient last year which would have been completely avoidable with appropriate community support. I often feel completely alone with my illness, despite the fact that on paper it looks like I have support because I am under the care of the community mental health team. I thought that I was going to be dead before I got to the top of the waiting list...”
Today the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), supported by Rethink Mental Illness, has published a report which – for the first time – highlights how much true parity of esteem for mental health would cost the NHS. By comparing access and quality of mental health care to physical health this report finds that to guarantee parity of esteem, mental health spending must double to £23.9bn by 2030/31, alongside uplifts in public health and social care budgets.
In light of the welcome extra funding for the NHS, now is the time to translate your commitments into ambitious and bold action. NHS mental health services require an increase in spending of at least 5% each year up to 2023/24 and 5.5% by 2030/31 to achieve parity of esteem compared to your committed increase for the NHS of 3.4% by 2023.
Only with this investment will people living with mental health conditions truly receive the care and support they need to have an equal chance of a long and fulfilling life as those with a physical health condition.
Andrew Reeves, Chair, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Kathy Roberts, CEO, Association of Mental Health Providers
Sarb Bajwa, CEO, British Psychological Society
Sarah Hughes, CEO, Centre for Mental Health
Tom Kibasi, Director, Institute for Public Policy Research
Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind
Sean Duggan, CEO, Mental Health Network
Mark Rowland, CEO, Mental Health Foundation
Helen Undy, Director, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
Lynne Stubbings, Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes
Mark Winstanley, CEO, Rethink Mental Illness
Wendy Burns, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Ruth Sutherland, CEO, Samaritans
Lynda Bryant, CEO, Together for Mental Wellbeing
Emma Thomas, CEO, Young Minds