Friday's Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into the state of mental health services won't come as a surprise to anyone who has found themselves in crisis because of their mental health. Sadly, many people will be able to identify with the experience of calls to crisis phone lines going unanswered and unsympathetic responses from some A&E staff. It is unacceptable that in some parts of the country the emergency response received by people with mental health problems falls far short.
When you are feeling desperate because of your mental health you should be able to expect urgent and appropriate help. You may be dealing with extreme anxiety, experience a psychotic episode or be at immediate risk of self-harm or suicide. In these situations, it's only right that you should be able to turn to responsive health services that treat you with dignity and respect.
We take for granted that when we have a physical health emergency there is someone there to treat and care for us in a timely manner. It should be no different for mental health, yet far too many people are just not getting the help they need.
We know that excellent crisis services do exist. They save lives and that's why we need them available as standard for everyone.
The crisis care concordat is an important step towards achieving this aim. It has been bringing together local services and organisations such as NHS trusts, the police, ambulance and local authorities to develop detailed action plans on how they will improve the support available for people in crisis. The challenge now is for every local area to deliver on their action plan so that everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets the help they need, when they need it.
We hope that the CQC report will be the start of a period of real change for mental health services. Now is the time that national and local commissioners must make mental health a priority and put forward the investment that is required for the future.