Investing in effective public mental health interventions can generate significant improvements in health and tackle some of the biggest inequalities in society, but there are wide variations in availability and overall spending is very low, according to figures released today by Mind.

Responding to Mind’s finding that only 1% of public health spending by local councils is clearly dedicated to mental health, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said: “Public health budgets are under enormous pressure, including a cut this year alone of £200 million across England. We know that this means local councils are struggling to maintain essential services and invest in measures that will improve mental health in communities long-term.

“Despite this, many councils are finding innovative ways of promoting good mental health, preventing mental illness and improving the life chances of people with mental health problems. It is encouraging for example to see in Mind’s survey that many local authorities are investing in suicide prevention activity. Our recent report on the ‘zero suicide’ initiative in the East of England found that they show great promise.

“But there is a wealth of information now available about the scope for improvement if all local areas were able to invest in cost-effective measures to improve mental health. From parenting programmes for young children with behavioural problems to smoking cessation support for people with mental health conditions, targeted and effective public mental health investment works. It is vital that we support local authorities to invest in what works, that we ensure funding is available for cost-effective programmes, and that we have more transparent data about these important public services.”