April 21, 2017

Tackling Britain’s silent health crisis

Tackling Britain’s silent health crisis

Irrespective of who wins on 8 June, Britain’s next Prime Minister will be confronted with one of the foremost public health issues in a generation, says Danny Bowman.

It’s estimated mental health will affect a quarter of the UK’s population at some point during their lives. Despite this, healthcare provision for affective disorders is woefully lacking. As Theresa May herself has highlighted, mental illness has been a ‘hidden injustice’ in our country for decades, shrouded in stigma and disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health. Rightly, she’s noted that it is an issue that strikes at the very core of the values and beliefs of our society.

But it is an issue with a quantitative impact on our country too. Over the past three years the number of unexpected patient deaths reported by mental health trust in England has risen by half. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that mental illness costs the UK around 4.5 per cent of GDP in lost working days, reduced productivity and higher benefits spending.

It’s clear that to tackle mental illness in the UK a radical overhaul is needed.

First, Theresa May needs to look at her approach to mental health within the NHS, which is regularly the subject of cuts to frontline services, which culminates in longer waiting times. New analysis from the Health Foundation suggests mental illness trust budgets have been cut by £150 million, even though the need for mental health provision is rising.

Secondly, the Government needs to ensure the money allocated for the treatment of mental illness is delivered. Data from Young Minds showed that half of all Clinical Commissioning Groups were using money specifically for mental health to fill gaps in other areas.

Theresa May should ring fence all money assigned to mental health, so Clinical Commissioning Groups can’t use it for other means. On the issue of funding mental health provision the Westminster based think tank Parliament Street sets out in a forthcoming policy paper, the Government should setup an invest to save model that would see short term investment leading to long term savings. If you invest in frontline mental health services now you will see fewer people needing further treatment in the future, thus saving money for the taxpayer.

There are other public services feeling the pain due to lack of investment in mental health care; research conducted by Parliament Street in February showed the police were dealing with more than 300,000 incidents where mental health was a factor, which uses up precious resources and costing the taxpayer more money.

The second hurdle Britain’s prospective Prime Minister needs to address is the reduction in life chances and life expectancy for people suffering from mental illness. An alarming number of people suffering from mental illness end up out of education, on welfare or in prison. Recent research by the OECD found that up to 370,000 people move onto disability benefit every year with the leading cause being mental ill-health, costing the economy a substantial amount of money. Theresa May must address the soring number of inmates in in our country’s prisons suffering from mental health problems and the prevalence of suicide attempts with figures from the prison reform trust showing that 46 per cent of female prisoners in UK prisons have tried to take their own life at some time in their lives compared to 21 per cent for male prisoners. It is even more shocking that figures from the Ministry of Justice showed there had been 119 self-inflicted deaths in prisons in England and Wales just in 2016 alone. According to Young Minds 95 per cent of young offenders have a diagnosable mental health problem which illustrates how untreated mental illness can lead to a reduction in life chances.

These points emphasise the key areas the if elected Theresa May needs to target. Inevitably, it often goes back to the argument for investing in frontline mental health services with an ‘invest to save model’. If people were to be fast tracked for treatment for their mental health problem they would be less likely to drop out of education, less likely to end up on welfare, less likely to end up in prison and less likely to take their own life which would save large amounts of money for the taxpayer and save lives too.

The final issue, and arguably the most important issue Mrs May will have to address is the considerable cost mental illness imposes on the economy. The Centre for Mental Health estimate the annual economic and social cost of mental illness at £105 billion annually. Again, this shows how early investment can have a significant impact on cost reductions further down the line.

To show her commitment to tackling mental illness and to help drive through the required change, Theresa May should appoint a dedicated position of Minister for Mental Health within her new administration.

Mental illness affects every part of our society and it is of paramount importance that in the upcoming general election and all political parties promote a modernised, forward looking ‘21st century approach to mental health’ but if the polls are right then special emphasis must be put on Theresa May outlining her plan for mental health as soon as possible.

5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 3 votes
Danny Bowman
Danny Bowman is a leading mental health campaigner who has appeared on television, radio and in magazines around the world. He is Mental Health Spokesperson at leading think tank, Parliament Street. In 2016 he was the author of the think tank's report into Mental Health and Social Media.
  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see https://mises.org/blog/goal-socialists-socialism-—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. https://mishtalk.com/2017/03/29/bad-brexit-deal-better-than-no-deal-mathematical-idiocy-odds-of-no-deal/ and https://www.worldheadlines.info/2017/03/after-brexit-9-reasons-to-be-bullish-on-great-britain/

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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