Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg vowed he would protect mental health services in England from cuts during the recession, after an appeal by campaigners dressed as Cinderella characters.

Mr Clegg promised the campaigners from the charity Rethink he would fight for mental health services as he signed a pledge at his party conference in Bournemouth on Monday.

The campaigners dressed up as the fairtale's characters to highlight their belief that mental health is the Cinderella of the NHS.

Rethink says that mental health only receives a fraction of the funding awarded to other health conditions such as cancer, even though one in four people will experience mental health problems in their lives.

After posting his promise in 'Pledge the Pumpkin', the Liberal Democrat leader said, "At a time of recession, the need for mental health services is greater than ever. People must get the right help at the right time to prevent other problems from escalating. It is false economy not to invest in mental health services."

Paul Corry Rethink's director of public affairs said, We are delighted that Nick Clegg has lent his support to our campaign to protect mental health services during this difficult recession. For too long, mental health, like Cinderella, has been left in rags and tatters. It is time for a fairy godmother to wave a magic wand and invest in mental health so that it too can go to the ball."

"However, fairy godmothers, and politicians - need to be aware that a short term commitment won't be enough....Mental health users and carers don't want to see mice and pumpkins appear at the stroke of midnight".