Healthcare professionals are to see changes made to the way mental health conditions are treated within the NHS over the coming months and years.
The government has outlined its new mental health action plan at a recent conference of experts, charities and users of mental health services, with the aim of improving care standards for a form of illness that affects one in four people at some point in their lives.
A document entitled Closing the Gap: Priorities for Essential Change in Mental Health has outlined 25 areas for health and care services to take action in order to create a fairer, more effective system that will help to reduce stigmatisation surrounding these conditions.
From April 2014, patients will be given more choice about where they get their mental health care, allowing them to select between various different services, including those offered by voluntary or independent organisations.
Waiting time standards will begin to be introduced for mental health from next year to ensure these services are run more efficiently, while the Friends and Family Test will be extended into this area, providing patients with a means through which to leave feedback on the standard of care they have received.
Efforts are also set to be made to ensure more people are offered talking therapies rather than medicine-based interventions, particularly for children and young people, who will be a major focus of these new reforms.
Additionally, £43 million will be invested in pilots on better housing for people with mental health problems or learning disabilities, to be built by 2017.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: "We're calling for action - across the NHS, the mental health sector and wider society - to champion change, to transform outdated attitudes and practices and to improve the lives of people with mental health problems."
He added: "It's going to take all of us working together to achieve the change in attitudes to mental health that we need."
Currently, mental illness is the biggest cause of disability in the UK - more than heart disease or cancer - with sufferers of severe mental health illnesses dying 15 to 20 years earlier than the general population.
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