Mental health groups call for fair funding

29 May 15

Six mental health organisations are urging the government to adopt an action plan for its first 100 days in office, including a commitment to agree to fair funding for services in July’s post-election Budget.

The group comprises the Centre for Mental Health, the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Network, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists­. It said there were a number of practical measures ministers could take quickly to ensure mental and physical health are valued equally.

As well as working to ensure better funding for mental health both in the Budget and the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, the plan called on the government to commit to proposals for national waiting time targets for mental health.

A commitment should also be made to improve the lives of people with mental health problems through improved employment support. This should encompass an ‘urgent review’ of the effectiveness of the current regime of benefit conditions and sanctions among people with mental health problems.

A renewed focus must also be placed on improving the physical health of people with mental health problems through tailored public health programmes that focus on obesity, smoking, and harmful drinking.

In addition, ministers were urged to commit to taking forward the recommendations of March’s Children and Young People Mental Health Taskforce report, which called for a series of reforms to provision for this group.

Setting out the priorities, the six organisations said mental health services had been massively underfunded for a long time, and had suffered a cut of almost £600m in real terms over the last parliament.
Overall, poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105bn annually in England, while businesses lose £26bn every year, the group claimed.

‘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 statement also highlighted that Chancellor George Osborne had set committed in the March Budget to increase funding for mental health services for children and new mothers by £1.25bn over this Parliament.

‘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.’

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