The Welsh Government budget for 2020/21 includes spending on mental health services, support and prevention. Mind Cymru Director, Sara Moseley blogs about the difference this can make for people in Wales.
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For people all over Wales – especially young people - mental health is at or near the top of health concerns. There is a huge groundswell of support both for improving access to timely help and treatment and for changing the way we live so as to value and enable good mental health. The Welsh Government’s draft budget goes some way to recognising this with a number of important commitments.
"There is a long term gap in mental health funding compared to need in almost every area of our health service:"
primary and community care, inpatient and specialist care and therapies, and child and adolescent mental health. Whilst this remains the case, there are some hopeful signs. First is the additional funding for services: £13m extra for mental health out of the £400m overall increase for NHS Wales; targeted support for students at school and in the community via the Youth Grant; and a significant increase in the sustainable social services third sector grant which will support and build grass roots work. Secondly, the growing recognition that getting well, keeping well and staying well mentally is achieved through much more than health care.
The increase of £200m in support for local government has the potential to be just as impactful in communities. When I was at Mind North East Wales last week, it was very clear that the long term commitment that Flintshire Council has made to this user-led and deeply rooted community organisation has been absolutely crucial in creating a pathway for people with mental health problems towards acceptance, inclusion, empowerment and recovery. Our work on social prescribing in Rhyl, Merthyr, Brecon and Ystradgynlais work to change lives through combining Mind expertise in mental health with varied and vibrant local activities and assets, many of them local authority funded.
In recognition of the impact of mental health and the economy, funding of more than £830,000 in 2020-21 will be targeted to Healthy Working Wales. This aims to improve health at work, prevent people being made ill at work, encourage retention or rehabilitation of those made ill at work and prevent the link between work-related ill health and economic inactivity. It is crucial that this includes mental ill health and that the policy framework for improving mental health at work more generally is strengthened.
Bangor University’s – wellness in work – report published earlier this year found that 1 in 6 employees in Wales suffer from a mental health problem.
The estimated economic cost of mental health problems at work in Wales is £4.68 billion per year. Workplace mental health interventions can offer a positive return on investment with up to £9 generated for every £1 spent.
We know that employers in Wales are very engaged and increasingly eager to do the right thing. A robust, evidence-based framework for improving mental health at work exists through Thriving at Work, a business-led, coherent and very practical approach to understanding and improving mental health in the workplace. We have the right policy environment in Wales - Prosperity for All, the economic contract and the fair work agenda are all progressive and visionary about the kind of society we want to build and the role of work and business in achieving this. We have a great opportunity to bring these two elements together. Mind Cymru would like to see the Welsh Government launch a clear commitment to the Thriving at Work standards linked to how this will be done in Wales.
"This draft budget shows Welsh Government is investing in mental health services, it now needs to quickly make a difference to people’s lives."
Consideration is needed on how all aspects of life and society contribute to our mental health and wellbeing and, ultimately, our prosperity and ability to thrive as a nation.
There are two things which are now crucial: the first is the pace of impact for all those people who have come to understand and prioritise mental health and who are desperate for change. The second, our ability to have a clear, simple, joined up framework based on what gets results that can be used in all areas of life and work.
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