CALLS to drive up standards of mental health services have been voiced at a North-East summit attracting regional and national speakers to address pressing issues.

Around 150 healthcare professionals gathered in County Durham for the 2018 Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) Mental Health Summit for the one-day event.

One in four adults annually experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in the UK, representing the largest single cause of disability in the country.

The summit was hosted in Durham’s Ramside Hall Hotel by NHS England and Public Health England North East to address GPs, psychiatric and mental health nurses, directors, and leaders of adult mental health services, alongside police and council representatives.

Seamus O'Neill, chief executive of the AHSN, said: “We were delighted to host this ground-breaking event that explored the ways we can continue working together to make change happen in mental health.

“We know that the number of people with a serious mental illness who are dying earlier than the rest of the population is too high.

“It’s vitally important that we work with our healthcare partners and the wider community to support better health outcomes for people with a mental illness.

“In the North-East and north Cumbria, our mental health programme is working hard to address regional priorities and contribute to the national agenda for mental healthcare reform.

“We’re committed to a joined up approach to drive innovation in mental health and take positive steps forward.”

Keynote speaker Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, used the North-East event to call for change.

He said: “It’s not right that we’re seeing many people with mental health conditions dying prematurely.

“Across the board, there are many people in our communities living in distress and it’s vital that resources we have available is put to best use, to better help those people and improve outcomes for anyone suffering.”