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Mental health must be a priority

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Mental health should receive greater investment and funding protection, Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said in her annual report.

The report contained recommendations on improving the treatment of mental illness, such as NHS England developing a programme of work to agree waiting times and access standards across mental health services. It also suggests that pilots such as Torbay and South Devon Integrated Care Pioneer service in primary care psychiatry should be piloted in other areas of the country.

The report also stated that up to 70 million sick days are caused by mental illness every year, costing the state between £70 to £100 billion annually. It also said that around 75 per cent of people with mental health issues receive no treatment at all, and that people affected by mental illness die 15 to 20 years prematurely, often from avoidable causes.

Dr Peter Carter, the RCN's chief executive, said: 'Nursing staff, who deal with the consequences of the [mental health] treatment gap every day, will be pleased to know that such a consensus exists about the need for parity of esteem when it comes to mental health. The dark ages in understanding mental health problems are now a thing of the past thanks to the pioneering work of mental health nurses, but these should now be made more widely available.'

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