Priorities for mental health


Economic report for the NHS England Mental Health Taskforce

Michael Parsonage, Claire Grant and Jessica Stubbs

February 2016

Priorities for mental health was commissioned by the NHS England Mental Health Taskforce to provide economic evidence to inform its deliberations.

Following the Taskforce report’s publication last month, Priorities for mental health sets out nine areas for service improvement where there is good evidence of cost-effective interventions that are not currently available widely. The analysis provided key evidence to the mental health taskforce and the investments recommended in its final report, which NHS England has supported.

The priority areas cover prevention and early intervention; better mental health care for people with physical health problems; and improved support for people with severe mental illness.

The nine priorities for investment identified in the report are:

  • Identification and treatment of anxiety and depression for women during pregnancy and after childbirth
  • Treatment of conduct disorder in young children
  • Early intervention services for first episode psychosis
  • Liaison psychiatry services in acute hospitals
  • Integrated care for people with long-term physical and mental health conditions
  • Improved management of medically unexplained symptoms and related complex needs
  • Supported employment services for people with severe mental illness
  • Community-based alternatives to acute inpatient care for people in a crisis
  • Interventions to improve the physical health of people with severe mental illness, especially smoking cessation.

All of these interventions have strong evidence that they improve outcomes and at the very least generate savings that cover their costs to the NHS. Treating women with perinatal anxiety and depression, for example, reduces health service use by both mothers and children. Liaison psychiatry services in acute hospitals create savings of at least £2.50 for every pound they cost. And doubling the number of people offered effective employment support would cost £54 million but generate savings to health services of £100 million within 18 months.


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