The economic and social cost of mental ill health in England has grown in the last decade to almost £119 billion a year, according to an estimate published today by Centre for Mental Health.

In a briefing paper setting out six key proposals for improving mental health in England, Centre for Mental Health found that the cost of mental health difficulties reached a record level last year (2019/20) as the human and business costs of mental ill health rose in the decade since it was last calculated*.

The briefing paper calls on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make this year’s Spending Review a Budget for Wellbeing. It calls for funding to enable local councils to invest in better mental health in communities and a national programme to support positive parenting.

It calls for a new settlement for adult social care that works for people of all ages, not just in old age, and for investment to update the NHS mental health and learning disability estate to prevent adults or children having to go to hospital far from home.

It also calls for specialist trauma counselling for parents who experience the tragedy of still birth or baby loss, which could be offered to everyone who needs it nationwide for just £3 million a year.

Centre for Mental Health chief economist Nick O’Shea said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is placing huge strain on the nation’s mental health, and it will continue to do so for some time. While government finances are under great pressure too, we know that wise investment in effective mental health support can pay for itself in better health, reduced inequality and more efficient public services.

“A Budget for Wellbeing in the UK would put the public’s health first and help to set the nation on the road to recovery. While the Government has already set out its plans to increase NHS spending, we also need to take action to prevent mental health problems wherever possible. With a Budget for Wellbeing, government spending decisions can be made with our mental health in mind. Used wisely, it could help to boost families and communities nationwide, with long-lasting benefits for all.

“Mental health problems cost society nearly £119 billion already. That is likely to rise sharply this year in the wake of Covid-19. Now is the time to invest in the nation’s mental health.

“Local councils have a pivotal role in supporting good mental health in communities across the country. They urgently need funding to invest in their local areas and support groups that have been badly affected by the pandemic.”

*In 2010, Centre for Mental Health calculated the economic and social cost of mental ill health as £105 billion a year in England in 2009/10


Download the report here