The government's Public Health White Paper for England sets out a utopian vision of how to prevent and remedy mental health problems. The public health approach relies on primary prevention, promoting individual responsibilities and resilience, while also sustaining existing services and tackling inequalities. These ambitions are consistent with the preventive psychiatric paradigm, and with the best of evidence-based psychiatric practice. Although the evidence on cost-effectiveness of public mental health interventions is growing, the challenge is to ensure that specialist knowledge informs policy, practice and research so that inequalities are not compounded. Specialist mental health professionals are needed to inform and lead public health reforms.
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