National organisations call on new government to make mental health a priority in emergency budget

29 May 2015

Six of England's leading mental health organisations have joined forces to produce a plan for what the Government should do in the first 100 days of the new Parliament to improve the lives of people with mental health problems. 

Improving England's Mental Health: The First 100 Days and Beyond, published today, has been produced jointly by Centre for Mental Health, the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Network, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 

The plan sets out a number of practical actions the new Government should take to ensure mental and physical health are valued equally.

For too long, mental health services have been massively underfunded – which in turn means far too few people are able to access the help and support they need. During the last Parliament, funding for mental health services were cut, in real terms, by 8.25 per cent –almost £600 million (1). 

Poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105 billion annually in England and business loses £26 billion due to mental ill health every year. Just 25 per cent of adults with depression and anxiety get any treatment and only 65 per cent of people with psychosis are thought to be getting support. We also know 75 per cent of children and young people experiencing a mental health problem do not currently access treatment (2). Demand is also increasing, with referrals to community mental health teams having risen nearly 20 per cent over the past five years (3).   

Speaking jointly, the leaders of our organisations said:

“The Queen's speech this week set out the Government's intention to improve access to mental health services over the next five years. This is very much welcome. These first 100 days represent a valuable opportunity for the Government to meaningfully demonstrate its commitment to improving the lives of people with mental health problems. Our plan sets out a range of actions needed to make that happen, of which increased investment will be vital. The Chancellor, George Osborne, set out in the March budget a commitment to increase funding for mental health services for children and new mothers by £1.25 billion over the Parliament (4). The upcoming emergency budget is a golden opportunity for this Government to demonstrate its commitment by re-pledging that much needed investment in mental health services.” 

Stephen Dalton, Chief Executive, Mental Health Network

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness 

The 100 day plan sets out five priority areas for action. Actions include: 

  1. Ensure fair funding for mental health - A commitment in the July emergency budget, and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) later in the year, to increase levels of investment in mental health services in real terms, over the lifetime of the Parliament. The Government should also restate the commitment made in the March 2015 budget to increase investment in mental health services for children and new mothers by £1.25 billion over the Parliament (5). 
  2. Give children a good start in life - Commit to take forward the recommendations of the recently published Children and Young People Mental Health Taskforce  report, Future in Mind.
  3. Improve physical health care for people with mental health problems - Develop tailored public health programmes for people with mental health problems, with a particular focus on Public Health England's priorities of obesity, smoking, and harmful drinking
  4. Improve the lives of people with mental health problems – Commit to extending Time to Change funding over the five years of this Parliament. Put in place better employment support nationwide for people who are out of work and seeking employment, plus urgently review the effectiveness of the use of benefit conditions and sanctions among people with mental health problems.
  5. Enable better access to mental health services – Commit to consult on proposals to introduce new national waiting time guarantees for mental health services in the first year of the Parliament.
Notes to editors:

  • The Mental Health Policy Group consists of six national organisations working together to improve mental health. Those organisations are Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Network, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
  • For enquiries, please contact Rebecca Cotton, Chair of the MHPG, on 020 7799 8681. For out of hours media enquiries, please call the NHS Confederation's Duty Press Officer on 07880 500726.
  • For more information on mental health funding over the last Parliament, the following two sources may be useful:
References
  1. BBC and Community Care (20 March 2015), Mental health trust funding down 8% from 2010 despite coalition's drive for parity of esteem. Available at: <http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2015/03/20/mental-health-trust-funding-8-...
  2. Ibid.   
  3. BBC and Community Care (20 March 2015), Mental health trust funding down 8% from 2010 despite coalition's drive for parity of esteem. Available at: <http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2015/03/20/mental-health-trust-funding-8-.... 
  4. H.M. Treasury (March 2015), The Budget. Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...
  5. H.M. Treasury (March 2015), The Budget. Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...
  6. Department of Health and NHS England (2015), Future in Mind: Promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...