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New care services minister affirms commitment to advancing mental health 

Norman Lamb, the new Minister of State for Care Services, asserted his commitment to mental health and challenging stigma, as he addressed mental health leaders in London yesterday.
Norman Lamb 

More attention from politicians

Speaking at the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network annual conference, he said that mental health needs more attention from politicians, highlighting that it is "everyone's business" and that the message has to "resonate far beyond the sector." He stressed his own personal commitment to advancing mental health as a "real and genuine priority", stating that he had ensured the Department of Health signed up to the Time to Change campaign.

Citing integrated care as another of his priority areas, Mr Lamb explained that he is determined to drive the case for integration and address "institutional fragmentation", as "the care of the individual as a whole is what we need to focus on."

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, who also addressed the conference, echoed Mr Lamb's emphasis on addressing both physical and mental health.

Central to NHS

Mr Lamb also spoke about the upcoming launch of the Secretary of State’s mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board, due to be published next week. He said this will help the health service move away from looking at mental health as separate and self-contained, so that "wherever you look, mental health is central to what the NHS is doing." Discussing what he called the "institutional disadvantage" of mental health within health and care services, he said he believed the mandate would help to turn "parity of esteem from rhetoric to reality."

He added that the mandate, the Government's statement of priorities for the NHS, will help to provide transparency and that he hoped it would empower mental health leaders to persuade and cajole clinical commissioning groups.

Significant step forward

Discussing the NHS reforms, Mr Lamb said the shift of public health functions to local government represents a "powerful opportunity", and the emphasis on both physical and mental health within the new Health and Social Care Act represents a "significant step forward, even if long overdue."

Find out more

Look out for a round up of all the conference activity on the Mental Health Network website.

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