Mental health budgets still not adequate for stress and depression treatment

Research has suggested that mental health care budgets have, in terms of every day actual application, fallen by 8 per cent over the course of this parliament.

Freedom of information requests and analysis of the compiled reports by BBC News and Community Care have found that in total, the budget for mental health trusts has been stripped by 8.25 percent, the equivalent of £598 million.

The data is based off the responses of 43 mental health trusts, adjusted for differences in structure and contracts.

Some have seen funding increases, such as Pennine Care and Lincolnshire, according to the BBC, but the majority have suffered a loss.

Community mental health services have had a real terms budget cut of 4.9 percent, but have seen referrals increase by 18.5 percent, both during this parliament.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State for care and Support has said: “We are taking action, including introducing new standards for mental health services that local areas will have to meet, just as there are for physical health services – this is backed by £80 million investment.

“This week we’ve also announced a £1.25 billion funding boost for children and young people’s mental health.”

However, Lamb also said that “Mental health care is given through a range of services including the voluntary sector,” and that “budgets were not the big picture.” Voluntary services and non-NHS stress management courses like mindfulness can greatly aid people suffering with stress related illnesses or depression, but a dependency on volunteers shows that mental and physical health services are still nowhere near equal.

However, Sir Simon Wessely, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said he was surprised the situation isn’t worse. “We are being asked to do more with less. We are campaigning and saying that people need to be more open about mental health problems and come forward earlier.

“But when they do, we find ourselves with less resources to treat them and they are getting short-changed.”

The chief executive of the Mental Health Network went even further and called the situation “a car crash,” while Paul Farmer of the mental health charity Mind claimed that three quarters of people with mental health problems are still not receiving treatment.

“Years of neglect and recent cuts” have severely damaged the mental health service, and a huge amount of work needs to go into the area in order to be effective.

Farmer concluded: “The next government will need to hit the ground running on mental health.”

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