Mental health care is so poorly understood and underfunded that “lives are being ruined”, a new review states.
The report – by a taskforce set up by NHS England – said far too many people were receiving inadequate care or no help at all.
The damning review set out a number of recommendations – including improving access to talking therapies and crisis care.
The findings were immediately accepted by both ministers and health care bosses, who promised to treat a million more people by 2020 – with £1bn extra funding to address the problems.
The extra money is to be taken from the £8.4bn the government has promised to the health service this Parliament.
It comes as issues such as depression, low-self esteem and suicide continue to rise in the gay community.
A recent survey found that 24% of gay men admitted to trying to kill themselves, while 54% admitted to having suicidal thoughts.
A further 70% said low self-esteem was the main reason for their depression and suicidal thoughts.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the plan would help put “mental and physical healthcare on an equal footing”.
He said he wanted to see all those that were struggling to “get the help and support” they needed.
“For too long there hasn’t been enough focus on mental health care in this country,” added Mr Cameron.
Currently £9.2bn a year is spent on the condition – less than a tenth of the NHS budget – even though one in four people experience mental health problems every year.
The result is that an estimated three-quarters of people go without any help – with the report acknowledging that services were so bad that lives have been “put on hold or ruined” and “thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths” have been caused.
Among other things, NHS England said the money will help an extra 600,000 people get access to talking therapies for conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress.
It will also help ensure mental health teams to be put into all A&E units – currently only a minority have them.
Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, who led the taskforce, said the strategy should act as a “landmark moment” for mental health care, which was currently “very patchy”.
“We are saying to the NHS, to government, to industry, to local leaders and to the public that mental health must be a priority for everyone,” he added.