A damning independent report today warns mental health care has been long-neglected and “chronically underfunded”.
A taskforce led by Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, paints a bleak picture of NHS services, and makes 58 recommendations to improve care.
“Mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK,” the report says. “The cost to the economy is estimated at £105 billion a year – roughly the cost of the entire NHS.”
Today is the publication of the Mental Health Taskforce-many people involved in creating the recommendations -thanks to all.
— Paul Farmer (@paulfarmermind) February 15, 2016
We are calling for help for an extra 1m people, better care for all, a new mindset for the NHS, and funding to meet more need.
— Paul Farmer (@paulfarmermind) February 15, 2016
NHS chief Simon Stevens has responded pledging £1 billion for services by 2020, but critics warn there is still much to do to close the gap between physical and mental health care.
Norman Lamb, former Lib Dem health minister who launched the cross-party Equality for Mental Health campaign last year, said: "This report lays bare the discrimination suffered by those with mental ill health at the heart of the NHS.
"People with mental ill health do not have the same right to get treatment on a timely basis as patients with physical conditions."
Here are 14 of the report’s most startling revelations.
1. One in ten children has has a “diagnosable problem”
However, the average wait for psychological therapy was more than seven months last year.
An “inequity in provision” means children may be sent “anywhere in the country" for help.
2. One in five new mothers has some form of illness
The report notes “depression, anxiety or in some cases psychosis” during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth.
Less than 15 per cent of the country provides specialist care - and more than 40 per cent provide no service at all - immediately before and after birth.
3. People with acute illnesses risk dying up to 20 years earlier
The taskforce reckons two-thirds of these deaths are from avoidable physical illnesses, many caused by smoking,
But there is a “lack of access” to physical healthcare for people with mental health problems.
Less than one-third of people with schizophrenia in hospital received the recommended assessment of cardiovascular risk.
4. Mental illness can make physical illnesses worse
The report cites £1.8 billion of additional costs caused by the poor mental health of the people with Type 2 diabetes.
But it goes on that fewer than 15 per cent of people with diabetes have access to psychological support.
5. Just 43 per cent of people with conditions are in work
Stable employment helps but the report warns people with mental health problems are "often overrepresented in high-turnover, low-pay and often part-time or temporary work".
6. Half of Armed Forces veterans experience problems
Veterans are “rarely referred to the right specialist care”, it says.
“It is essential that more is done to ensure their needs are identified early and they are supported to access specialist care swiftly,” the report says.
7. 40 per cent of older people in care homes have depression
The report notes some clinicians believe treatment for depression is less effective in older people “despite evidence to the contrary”.
8. Minority groups are at greater risk
It argues black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) households are more likely to live in poorer or over-crowded conditions and “increasing the risks of developing mental health problems”.
LGBT and disabled people are also are also “poorly served” by services.
9. Suicide is rising after years of decline
Suicide rates peaked at 4,882 deaths in 2014, and are now the leading cause of death for men aged between 15 and 49.
The report states a quarter of people who took their own life had been in contact with a health professional - usually their GP - in the last week before they died.
10. Three quarters of people with problems receive no support
While nearly two million adults had specialist mental health and learning disability support in 2014, the report said it knew we "little about the quality of their care".
11. Long delays to care
One-quarter of people using hospital mental health services do not know who is responsible for coordinating their care.
Almost one-fifth of people getting care for more complex needs have not had a formal meeting to review their care in the previous 12 months.
12. "Too often people are accessing care via the police"
The Care Quality Commission found that only 14 per cent of adults felt they were provided with the right response when in crisis.
Only a minority of hospital accident and emergency departments has 24/7 mental health cover, even though the peak hours are between 11pm and 7am.
13. Fall in hospital beds
The number of psychiatric beds for adult inpatients fell by 39 per cent between 1998 and 2012.
"Pressure on beds … leads to people being transferred long distances outside of their area," it adds.
14. Years of "underinvesting in mental health services"
The report shows mental health accounts for 23 per cent of NHS activity, but NHS spending on services is equivalent to just half of that.
The degree of the disparity in investment by region has "largely been obscured" by the way spending on mental health conditions is grouped together.