Mental illness is UK's biggest challenge

Ed Miliband has claimed mental illness represents the UK's biggest health challenge at present. The Labour leader has given an address at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and explained related conditions are blighting the lives of millions across the nation and costing UK business £26 billion and the NHS £10 billion a year.

Mr Miliband said patients suffering from mental health problems should be given the same legal rights as individuals receiving healthcare for physical issues, pointing out one in four Britons will have a mental illness at some point in their lives.

It is hoped that people will join this fight against intolerance in the same way as they look to combat racism, sexism and homophobia.

Mr Miliband stated: "For far too long our leading politicians have been far too silent about mental health, part of a taboo running across our society which infects both our culture and our politics."

He added this taboo needs to be broken if Britain is to be successfully rebuilt as one nation.

Chartered Psychologist and Chair of the Society's Professional Practice Board Dr David Murphy, who attended the speech, said:

"I was very pleased to have the opportunity to hear Labour Leader Ed Millband explain his party's views on mental health this morning. Indeed, the fact that the leader of a main political party would make a speech of this nature making a commitment to make mental health one of their most important priorities really demonstrates how far we have come in the UK in terms of recognizing the importance of this area to us all.
In addition to making the commitment to make mental health a key priority, Mr Milliband also made a number of specific points which I welcome. He made a pledge to re-write the NHS constitution so that in addition to the current right to access drugs and medical treatments it contains there would be a new right for people to to access psychological therapies for mental health problems. He also highlighted the issue of mental health is not solely for the NHS to tackle and that promotion of good mental health needs to happen right across our Society particularly in our schools and workplaces.

Clearly, our discipline of psychology has a huge amount to contribute to the promotion of good mental health across the lifespan and we are committed to working with politicians across the political spectrum and other key stakeholders to achieve this goal, which is embedded in the charitable objectives of the British Psychological Society."