norman lamb
Equality for Mental Health was launched by Lib Dem MP and former health minister, Norman LambReuters

A new campaign has launched urging the government to use the current spending review to increase funding to mental health services. Equality for Mental Health calls for mental health to be considered equally important to physical health.

Former Communications Director under Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell, Conservative MP, Andrew Mitchell, and Former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, were among the high-profile political figures who backed the campaign. Alistair Campbell in particular has been vocal about the need for better understanding of mental health issues in the past, making a documentary for BBC Two in 2008 about his own struggles with depression and alcoholism.

The campaign also sets out the economic benefits of better mental health provisions, arguing that "sustained investment in mental health services will lead to significant returns for the Exchequer, both by reducing the burden on the NHS through the improved wellbeing of our citizens, and by helping people to stay in, or get back into work."

Celebrity backers include Joanna Lumley, Sir Ian McKellen, Alan Rickman and Richard Curtis. Nine former Health Secretaries are also signatories, including Ken Clarke and Andy Burnham.

Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Lamb, who launched the campaign, told the BBC that with Equality for Mental Health, "we can start to break the taboos, break the stigma and help people to get access to support and treatment when they need it. There's a wealth of evidence that if you intervene quickly with mental health you can stop the deterioration of condition but we don't do that, we neglect problems dreadfully," said Lamb.