Letter to Prime Minister: Now is the time to translate your commitments into ambitious and bold action

09 October 2023

The Rt. Hon Theresa May MP

The Prime Minister

10 Downing Street


25 October 2018

Dear Prime Minister,

We have warmly welcomed your strong leadership on mental health. You have rightly committed to tackling the “burning injustice of mental illness” by delivering “a new approach from government and society as a whole” to achieve parity of esteem and outcomes. And, thanks to your leadership, we have undoubtedly already made progress towards this goal.

Mental health services have seen significant progress in access and quality, as a result of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and its investment. This is a huge achievement. However, this plan was only ever intended to take the first, realistic steps on a journey towards parity, focussing on crucial, but specialist, areas of support for certain groups of people living with mental illness.

We hear far too often from people experiencing mental health problems who are having to wait months, sometimes years, for treatment. This, alongside a lack of sufficient prevention and social care services, mean too many people are reaching crisis point, resulting in lifelong harm to their quality of life, not to mention impacting on NHS and wider public finances.

One person severely impacted by mental illness told us, “My problems were not taken seriously and I ended up as an inpatient last year which would have been completely avoidable with appropriate community support. I often feel completely alone with my illness, despite the fact that on paper it looks like I have support because I am under the care of the community mental health team. I thought that I was going to be dead before I got to the top of the waiting list...”

Today the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), supported by Rethink Mental Illness, has published a report which – for the first time – highlights how much true parity of esteem for mental health would cost the NHS. By comparing access and quality of mental health care to physical health this report finds that to guarantee parity of esteem, mental health spending must double to £23.9bn by 2030/31, alongside uplifts in public health and social care budgets.

In light of the welcome extra funding for the NHS, now is the time to translate your commitments into ambitious and bold action. NHS mental health services require an increase in spending of at least 5% each year up to 2023/24 and 5.5% by 2030/31 to achieve parity of esteem compared to your committed increase for the NHS of 3.4% by 2023.

Only with this investment will people living with mental health conditions truly receive the care and support they need to have an equal chance of a long and fulfilling life as those with a physical health condition.

Yours sincerely,


Kathy Roberts, CEO, Association of Mental Health Providers

Andrew Reeves, Chair, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Sarb Bajwa, CEO, British Psychological Society

Sarah Hughes, CEO, Centre for Mental Health

Tom Kibasi, Director, Institute for Public Policy Research

Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind

Sean Duggan, CEO, Mental Health Network

Mark Rowland, CEO, Mental Health Foundation

Helen Undy, Director, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Lynne Stubbings, Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes

Mark Winstanley, CEO, Rethink Mental Illness

Wendy Burns, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Ruth Sutherland, CEO, Samaritans

Lynda Bryant, CEO, Together for Mental Wellbeing

Emma Thomas, CEO, Young Minds


For more information on the letter, please get in touch with the Rethink Mental Illness media team on 0207 840 3138 or media@rethink.org  

For information about the IPPR report please contact IPPR's David Wastell, Head of News and Communications on 07921 403651 / 020 7470 6146 or d.wastell@ippr.org