Britain needs a cabinet minister for mental health
05 Mar 2012 | Richard Layard
* Lord Layard calls for mental health to be given much
Mental health should be the sixth pillar of the welfare state,
Professor Lord Richard Layard will argue in a public lecture tomorrow evening, Tuesday 6
March 2012. Delivering the final Centre for Economic Performance
(CEP) 21st birthday lecture at the LSE, he will say that:
"Mental health lies at the root of so many of our social
problems and yet it is shockingly neglected by our policy-makers.
This will only change if there is a minister for mental health
within the cabinet."
Lord Layard will note that mental illness accounts for a half of
all the illness experienced by people under 65. It is responsible
for a half of all days off sick and for a half of all disabled
people on incapacity benefit. And unless treated, it is regularly
passed on from generation to generation.
But there are excellent treatments out there, which would in
many cases cost nothing because of the resulting savings in social
expenditure. Yet only a quarter of people with mental illness get
treatment - compared with at least 90% for people with most
This shocking difference is mainly because the facilities are
not there and NICE-recommended treatment cannot be provided. Only
15% of NHS expenditure is on mental illness. It is by common
consent the Cinderella of the NHS.
Lord Layard will conclude:
"One reason why we are no happier than we were in the 1950s is
that despite huge advances in education, health and living
standards, we have neglected the deep personal problems that hold
so many people back.
"This situation will not be altered without a radical change that
reflects the importance of mental health in our national life. It
requires a separate cabinet minister for mental health and social
care within the Department of Health."
Notes for editors
The lecture - Mental Health: The New Frontier for the Welfare
State - will be given at the LSE at 6.30pm on Tuesday 6
March in the Sheikh Zayed Theatre and is open to the public.
Lord Layard is director of the Wellbeing programme at the LSE's
Centre for Economic
Performance. He is an economist and a Labour peer. He is also
co-founder of Action
For further information contact Harriet
Politics of Happiness