Councils ‘not spending enough on mental health’

28 Oct 14
Many councils spend ‘close to nothing’ on mental health services despite town hall remits to prevent both physical and mental health problems in the communities they serve, a survey by Mind has found.

By Richard Johnstone | 28 October 2014

Many councils spend ‘close to nothing’ on mental health services despite town hall remits to prevent both physical and mental health problems in the communities they serve, a survey by Mind has found.

Freedom of information requests by the charity found that councils spend an average of 1.36% of their public health budgets – which have been devolved to upper tier and unitary authorities since April 2013 – on mental health services.

According to the examination, the total annual spend by local authorities on preventing physical health problems includes £671m spent on sexual health initiatives, £160m on smoking cessation programmes, and £108m on anti-obesity objectives. By contrast, less than £40m is spent on preventing mental health problems, and this is often filed under ‘miscellaneous’ in accounts.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said that the spending on mental health services was ‘unacceptably low’.

He added: ‘We need to invest in everyone’s mental health, particularly for people who are more likely to become unwell such as younger people, pregnant women, people who are isolated, or those living with a long term physical health problem.

‘With demand for mental health services increasing, antidepressants on the up and more people accessing talking therapies, we are beginning to see the scale of the unmet need for mental health services in England. As a society we must start looking at what we can do to help prevent people from developing mental health problems in the first place.’

The announcement comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the first-ever national waiting time targets for some mental health services earlier this month.
However, Farmer said authorities still need much clearer guidance and support on how best to tackle mental health problems.

‘We want the next government to introduce a national strategy to ensure local authorities know what to do, and use their budgets to prevent mental health problems developing and reduce the number of people becoming unwell.’

 

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