The Government’s 2020 Spending Review is a missed opportunity to start rebuilding the nation’s mental health after the trauma of the global pandemic, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said today.
Responding to the Spending Review, Sarah Hughes said: “Some 10 million people nationwide are projected to need some extra support for their mental health because of Covid-19. And last year, the cost of mental health problems reached almost £120 billion in England.
“While we welcome the Chancellor’s pledge to invest ‘around £500 million’ more in NHS mental health services next year, we are concerned that this will not go far enough. This is all the more worrying with just £300 million more going to local councils through the social care grant and no increase at all in local authority public health funding despite their pivotal role in protecting us from coronavirus this year. And we are disappointed that no additional funding has been earmarked for mental health support in schools following the pandemic.
“We welcome the continuation of the Government’s coronavirus job protection schemes and its investment in new and existing employment support programmes. These are essential for people to sustain their livelihoods and will protect mental health in households affected by the recession. We hope that when the Government’s plans to support more disabled people into work and improve health assessments are published they mark a radical change in the way benefits and employment programmes work towards a more respectful, humane and effective approach to social security. We note, however, that both the Minimum Wage and National Living Wage are only rising slightly, when for many families in-work poverty is a major risk to mental health, especially among children.
“The Spending Review also allocates £260 million extra for Health Education England next year. It is estimated that £200 million is needed each year to fulfil the mental health service pledges of the NHS Long Term Plan. Without it, plans to expand community mental health services for adults and children will struggle to succeed.
“This year’s Spending Review could have put the public’s mental health at the top of the agenda. Instead of spending £4 billion building more prisons which we know to be harmful to mental health, we could have seen investment in communities, in early years and youth services, and in the mental health workforce.”