Andy Bell, chair of the Mental Health Policy Group, a coalition of leading mental health organisations, has today issued the following initial response to the Government’s Spending Review:
“The Chancellor’s decision to highlight mental health in the Spending Review today is welcome. While the announcement of additional funding for mental health services is a good start, it is vital that we see more investment in mental health from NHS England going forward if we are to achieve the turnaround we so desperately need. We hope that NHS England will follow the Chancellor’s lead in responding to the recommendations of the Mental Health Taskforce early next year, to ensure that the funding translates to real change and focused investment on the ground.
“There are, however, sizeable question marks around many of the wider issues facing people with mental health problems. We are particularly concerned about potential cuts to public health budgets in this parliament and continued pressures on social care and housing, which all have the potential to have a major impact on people with mental health problems and their families. We are simply not investing enough in preventing mental health problems in the first place, leaving people to become more unwell and in need of more long-term and costly treatment.
“This is all the more damaging considering that five consecutive years of cuts have left mental health services stretched to their very limits, while demand for services continues to increase. The social and economic cost of mental health problems is currently estimated at over £100bn a year, including a personal cost which we cannot ignore. We all have mental health as we do physical health, and we deserve services that support them both equally when we are unwell. We are therefore calling on the Government and NHS England to clarify their spending commitments around mental health to ensure that it receives its fair share for each of the next five years.”
Jenny Edwards CBE, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation said:
“The Chancellor has recognised the historic neglect of mental health and has begun the task of addressing this. We would expect and call for more significant pledges to emerge in response to the Mental Health Taskforce Report in the New Year. The commitment to improve and expand services for perinatal mental health, talking therapies and crisis services is welcome. However there must be a much more substantial commitment to providing earlier interventions and support for people’s mental health, well before they reach crisis point. Only with dedicated funding for prevention, can the Government start to tackle increasing mental health problems in our society. Getting this right and rethinking our approach to mental health to support people at the right time, would offer us the opportunity to save lives and prevent human misery as well as reaping a substantial economic benefit.”
The Mental Health Policy Group consists of six national organisations working together to improve mental health:
- Centre for Mental Health
- Mental Health Foundation
- Mental Health Network
- Rethink Mental Illness
- Royal College of Psychiatrists