We need a Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, urges former Labour adviser

A mental health minister should be appointed to the government’s cabinet, an influential economist, former government adviser and Labour peer has said.

Lord Richard Layard says mental health is a “sixth pillar” of the welfare state and is overlooked by policy makers.

He said that this will not change without a radical change reflecting the importance of mental health.

“It requires a separate cabinet minister for mental health and social care within the Department of Health,” he told an audience on Tuesday at the London School of Economics.

The government says mental health problems are the largest single cause of disability and illness in England accounting for 40% of all physical and mental disability, and taking up a third of all GP’s time. Around 15% of NHS expenditure is on treatment for mental ill health.

Layard is credited for the thinking behind the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme for treating anxious and depressed people in the UK, as well as government attempts to measure individual and nation wellbeing, in the same way as it does the Britain’s economical Gross Domestic Product.

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