Published: 07/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5949 Page 20

Angela Greatley, chief executive, Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health; Elizabeth Gale, chief executive, Mentality

How disappointing that HSJ's otherwise excellent summary of the public health agenda should entirely neglect the second biggest cause of morbidity (after heart disease) in Europe (news analysis, pages 13-15, 17 March).

Mental wellbeing may not have the political profile of obesity or smoking. Nor is it so amenable to traditional public health working methods.

Yet mental illness carries an economic and social cost of£77bn a year in England alone.

Unless public health practitioners take seriously the need to grasp the nettle of mental wellbeing, they will have squandered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they now have to achieve better health for the people they serve.