Label’s Assistant Editor, Anna Cooper, brings us the lowdown on what the recent Budget means for mental health.
As the budget is released for 2018/2019, it throws the subject of mental health into the public eye even more. With the recent month of Movember having focused upon and raising awareness of men’s mental health, I had a look into the statistics which show why we all need to talk. In the UK men remain three times as likely to take their own lives than women, and in the Republic of Ireland four times more likely.
The stigma surrounding mental health, (i.e having a psychological issue makes you weaker) is what causes people not to speak out – especially men. Approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue and in 2016, 20.6% of people had suicidal thoughts, 6.7% of people made suicide attempts and 7.3% of people self-harmed. However, these results do not take into account those in hospitals, prisons, sheltered housing and the homeless, so can those figures be seen as accurate?
I think it is just as important to raise awareness of different types of mental illnesses people could be facing, as well as creating strategies that act as prevention before the illness becomes more serious. Julie Wood, Chief Executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners said, “Whilst it is important that people experiencing a mental health crisis have easy access to appropriate services and support, we also need to strengthen core mental health services to help prevent them reaching crisis point in the first place – and hope to see this in the long-term plan.”
The NHS released a 5-year plan, aiming to reshape the health service and centres a great deal of this reshuffle onto mental health. Senior members of the NHS Confederation welcomed the additional funding, but also emphasised that despite the extra funding there will still be many challenges in treating patients. For example, the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation Niall Dickson said that, “the extra funding announced today – again welcome – is clearly inadequate.”
Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of Mental Health Network said “It is positive to see that specialist crisis teams for children and younger people will be set up in every part of the country as we know how important it is to address mental illness as early as possible. However, we must keep our eyes on the immediate needs of our core inpatient and community mental health services, and we must also remember that social care, capital budgets and public health will need additional funding.”
£2 billion of additional funding has been promised to help treat those suffering from a mental illness by 2023/2024. Will this 2 billion make a noticeable difference to the £11.9 billion spent on mental health in 2017/2018? In the grand scene of things, this amounts to one in every ten pounds spent by the Department of Health last year. The government are pledging extra funding, but will this be an improvement in the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses? Is this enough to decrease the waiting times for psychological therapy? And enough for patients to recover comfortably and receive brilliant care? I think not.
Featured image by: Omeiza Haruna