Local Authorities Criticised over Mental Health Budgets
A survey by mental health charity Mind has discovered that local authorities in England are spending just 1% of their public health budgets on mental health provision. The data, obtained by freedom of information requests, showed that in 131 authorities in England, £40 million of a total public health spend of £3.3 billion had been allocated to mental health. Ten authorities surveyed stated they wouldn’t be spending anything in the current financial year.
Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, told The Guardian: “Our research shows that the current spend on public mental health initiatives is negligible. The fact that local authorities’ public health teams are allowed to file mental health under ‘miscellaneous’ when reporting on it perhaps explains why. It sends a message that mental health is not seen as important and not a priority for investment.”
In response to the results, Mind has produced a guide to commissioning local services which highlights at-risk groups. The charity estimates that mental health problems cost the NHS and social care services in the region of £21 billion every year. The cost to the economy in terms of lack of output is thought to be up to £30 billion. In response to the findings, the Department of Health pointed out that NHS funding for mental health increased to £11.7 billion in 2014/15.