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.
“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 to achieve the turnaround we so desperately need”
“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.”
Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s recognition that mental health care has been under-funded for too long and that further investment is required. Our research shows that people with mental health problems face harder, poorer and shorter lives and that targeted investment in faster, better and more responsive services can change people’s lives. We must ensure that the £600 million earmarked for NHS mental health services is only the beginning of the story and that it is followed by investment in effective mental health support in schools, employment services, housing support and the criminal justice system.”
* The Mental Health Policy Group consists of six national organisations working together to improve mental health.