House of Commons Library

Mental health policy in England

Published Wednesday, August 23, 2017

House of Commons Library briefing on mental health policy in England.

Jump to full report >>

Around one in four people in the UK suffer from a mental health problem each year, but mental illness often goes untreated, and historically, treatment options for mental health compare unfavourably with those for physical conditions. While mental illness is estimated to accounts for almost a quarter of the total burden of disease, only 13 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on mental health services.

This House of Commons Library briefing covers measures taken to achieve “parity of esteem” between mental and physical health, in terms of access to services, quality of care and allocation of resources. While the achievement of parity of esteem has been a long term-policy goal, since 2010 this aim has increasingly featured in legislation and in government and NHS policy statements.

This briefing covers policies introduced under the 2010-2015 Coalition Government, measures introduced under the 2015-2017 Conservative Government, such as the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (published February 2016), and more recent developments. 

Further information on policy on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), including work to improve the provision of mental health services in schools, is available in the Library briefing Children and young people’s mental health – policy, CAMHS services, funding and education.

Statistics in this area can be found in the Library briefing, Mental health problems: statistics on prevalence and services (January 2017)

As health is a devolved matter, the Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for setting their own policies in this area. Links to policies of the devolved administrations are provided in section 11 of this briefing paper.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-7547

Authors: Elizabeth Parkin; Tom Powell

Topics: Health finance, Mental health, Patient rights and complaints

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.