Department of Health agrees to put mental health 'high on the global agenda'

The Society received a response from the Right Honourable Andrew Lansley MP, Secretary of State for Health, to a letter sent regarding the inclusion of mental health issues and disorders in the global agenda for non-communicable diseases.

Dr Carole Allan, Chair of the Society’s Professional Practice Board, wrote to the Secretary last month urging the government to ensure that mental illnesses and disorders are ‘Explicitly included under the rubric of non-communicable diseases in the United Nations Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases that will take place in September’ and to not miss the opportunity to advocate for inclusion at ‘several other international meetings leading up to the summit including the World Health Organisation meeting of health ministers at the end of April in Moscow’.

Dr Allan stressed the arguments against the inclusion of mental illnesses and disorders as being ‘outdated’ and that ‘the causes of mental illnesses are muti-factorial and include biological as well as psychological factors, and they have a huge impact on a large proportion of the population in terms of health, productivity, economic development, and quality of life.’

The letter urged the government to recognise mental illness as a non-communicable disease for which effective treatments and interventions exist and if social justice, human rights and development are the goals along with cost-effectiveness and good health outcomes then ‘mental health must be addressed, not as an afterthought or footnote, but boldly, and with commitment.’

Andrew Lansley’s response agreed that the ‘relationship between mental health and other non-communicable diseases needs recognition’ and that they will ‘continue to work to make sure that mental health issues are high on the global agenda”. He also assured the Society that the ‘UK is doing all it can to ensure a successful outcome from the UN high level meeting in September’.

Later today (15:30) Andrew Lansley will make a statement to the House of Commons in response to the government's 'NHS Future Forum' report.