THE BLOG

Equality for Mental Health - An Historic Opportunity to Deliver Real Change

03/11/2015 08:54 GMT | Updated 02/11/2016 09:12 GMT

I know from personal experience just how vital good mental health care is for families across the UK. One in four people experience poor mental health at some time in their lives and this means that everyone knows somebody who has had a mental health problem. Yet for far too long our society has not prioritised mental health care. For decades, it has been at the back of the queue for funding and the front of the queue for cuts.

As a former mental health minister I am proud of the progress that we have made. The first ever waiting time standards. Over a billion pounds investment in children's mental health services over the next five years. Cutting the use of police cells for people in crisis. But I am all too aware that so much more needs to be done.

That's why I have got together with Alastair Campbell and Andrew Mitchell MP to launch a major cross-party, cross-society campaign for better mental health care. In a matter of days, we have gathered stellar names from the worlds of entertainment and sport; faith leaders and top business people who all agree on one thing: we need equality for mental health.

Over 200 people have signed up to our open letter calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to prioritise mental health in the forthcoming spending review. This is an historic opportunity to deliver real change.

The letter highlights just ten of the major concerns over inadequate mental health care, including the lack of access to treatment, long waiting times, inadequate crisis care, use of police cells and the shocking 20 year gap in life expectancy between those with mental health problems and the rest of the population.

Our supporters include the Institute of Directors and the TUC as well as key business leaders like Sir Tom Hunter, Sir Martin Sorrell, and Lord Richard Rogers. We have joined with key faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the Muslim Council of Britain.

Celebrity supporters include Richard Curtis, Danny Boyle, Annie Lennox, Mumford and Sons, Jamal Edwards, Jimmy McGovern, Graham Norton, Emma Thompson, Frankie Bridge from the Saturdays, Steve Coogan, Caitlin Moran, Michael Morpurgo, Louis Theroux and Frank Skinner.

And from the world of sport we have been backed by the League Managers' Association, the Professional Cricketers' Association, the Professional Footballers' Association, the Rugby League State of Mind campaign, along with individuals such as Alan Pardew, Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Kelly Holmes and Marcus Trescothick.

I am delighted by the amazing support we have received from celebrities like Ruby Wax OBE who has enthusiastically championed the cause. You too can back the campaign by signing up at equality4mentalhealth.uk and tweeting your support using the hashtag #Equality4MentalHealth

Norman Lamb is the Lib Dem MP for North Norfolk