Mental health faces ‘massive funding shortfall and institutional stigma’ in NHS

2000px-NHS.svgA quarter of all NHS cases are associated with mental illness, but it currently receives just 11% of funding, which staff fear will impact patient care in the UK

Figures released by the London School of Economics reveal that mental health receives just half of its proportional budget in the NHS.  23% of the UK’s “burden of disease” is in relation to mental health, yet is allocated just 11% of the healthcare budget.

The ‘Cinderella service

Nottingham Early Intervention in Psychosis leader Kevin Somerton believes that there is continued stigma surrounding the area within the NHS. “So often Mental Health is referred to as a ‘Cinderella service’, always progressing and advancing, but never truly receiving the support to fulfil its potential.”
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“Sadly, I believe this continues to stem from institutional stigma ingrained into the hierarchy of the NHS. A wilful lack of insight has forced the use of a less resource-intensive ‘Doctor and Medicine’ model. But in the modern era of mental health treatment, it is proven the world over that it just isn’t effective.”

Developing treatments

Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) is a progressive style of treatment being favoured by the NHS watchdog NICE. Patients experiencing symptoms for the first time receive three years of high intensity treatment, therapy and holistic care.

“Holistic mental health treatments are often a hard sell to those controlling the money”
Professor Paul McCrone, King’s College

EIP has seen success across the world, but substantial up-front investment is needed to support the resource-intensive service.

Holistic groups such as cooking provide valuable opportunities for patients

Holistic groups such as cooking provide valuable opportunities for patients

Despite continuing cuts, EIP Nottingham ring-fences a portion of its budget for holistic groups, such as cooking skills. These allow patients to earn qualifications and improve job prospects. Occupational Therapist Catherine Pickance champions care schemes like this.

“Medication can only go so far. Ninety percent of mentally ill patients want to work, yet just ten percent do. Surely financing schemes like this now will pay dividends to the economy in the future, in both employment and reduced involvement in services.”

Budget priorities

Professor Paul McCrone, mental health economics professor at King’s College, believes the reasons behind lack of funding is due to the broad range of expenditure needed.

“Often mental health services provide holistic treatments, such as activity groups and education or training. While effective, these often only show their financial benefits years later, for example in employment.”

“In an era of historic cuts and ever-tightening budgets, this can be an issue in GP commissioning services. Front-line services are the priority for most, and thus holistic mental health treatments are often a hard sell to those controlling the money.”

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