NHS England's taskforce on mental health has set out a five-year plan for NHS mental health services, as well as other bodies and services involved in the support of people with mental health problems.
The report, independently chaired by Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said in its foreward: "Mental health services have been underfunded for decades, and too many people have received no help at all, leading to hundreds of thousands of lives put on hold or ruined, and thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths."
The report found that three quarters of people with mental health problems receive no support at all.
Nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health and learning disability services at some point in 2014/15 - though the report admitted that "we know little about the quality of their care and there remains extensive unmet need for mental health care."
In its recent review of crisis care, the Care Quality Commission found that only 14% of adults surveyed felt they were provided with the right response when in crisis.
Suicide rates in England have increased steadily in recent years, peaking at 4,882 deaths in 2014. It is now the leading cause of death for men aged 15-49.
Workplace mental health
The report found that between 60-70% of people with common mental health problems are in work, yet few employees have access to specialist occupational health services.
For people being supported by secondary mental health services, there is a 65% gap compared with the general population. People with mental health problems are also often overrepresented in high-turnover, low-pay and often part-time or temporary work.
The employment rate for adults with mental health problems remains "unacceptably low": 43% of all people with mental health problems are in employment, compared to 74% of the general population and 65% with other health conditions.
Of people with ‘mental and behavioural disorders' supported by the Work Programme, only 9.5% have been supported into employment.
The report urged that by 2020/21, each year up to 29,000 more people living with mental health problems should be supported to find or stay in work through increasing access to psychological therapies for common mental health problems and expanding access to Individual Placement and Support (IPS).
"Timely access" to services
Over 20,000 people who live with a mental health problem or work in the mental health sector told the taskforce they want timely access to good quality mental health services, their mental and physical health needs to be treated equally and a bigger focus is placed on preventing mental health problems.
They also said that a decent place to live, a job and good quality relationships in their local communities were crucial to their ability to stay well.
The key recommendations are:
• By 2020/21, one million extra people will be provided with support for their mental health problem.
• People facing a crisis should have access to mental health care 24/7 - right care, right place, and right time.
• People's mental and physical health should be treated equally - including people with severe mental health problems, women in the perinatal period, children and young people.
• All areas of society, such as schools, workplaces and community organisations need to contribute to the promotion of good mental health and prevention of mental health problems - in all areas of people's lives.
• Too many people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities have problems accessing good quality mental health care and have lost faith in services. The taskforce demands urgent action to ensure that everyone gets the help they need, irrespective of their background or the communities they belong to.
NHS England has welcomed the report and has committed to delivering the recommendations, backed by £1billion of new funding in the annual NHS budget by 2020.
"One in a generation opportunity"
Farmer added:"This is a landmark moment for mental health care in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform services and support for people with mental health problems.
"We are saying to the NHS, to government, to industry, to local leaders and to the public that mental health must be a priority for everyone in England. We need to prevent problems in the first place, and to respond to people's mental health problems at the earliest possible opportunity. As part of this, the NHS can and should be a world leader in care which treats people's minds and bodies equally well.
"This report is a feasible and affordable blueprint for how to significantly improve care for people with mental health problems. We have consulted with the experts - people with experience of mental health problems, professionals providing care and the public. It's time to make positive change."
Prime Minister David Cameron said:"The Taskforce has set out how we can work towards putting mental and physical healthcare on an equal footing and I am committed to making sure that happens."
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