“This week the Deputy Prime Minister made a public call for an additional £1.5 billion for the NHS. We hope that such additional funding will be announced in the Autumn Statement, and we urge the government to clearly commit a considerable proportion of that to mental health services.
"The funding crisis in mental health services has been recognised by all, and it must now be addressed urgently. This is the moment to turn rhetoric into reality.”
The coalition, which includes Rethink Mental Illness, the Mental Health Foundation, the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, Centre for Mental Health and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, also emphasised how important it is that local commissioners assess the mental health needs of their local communities and act where there are gaps in services, especially in crisis care.
This comes off the back of new proposals, set out by Monitor and NHS England, which could see budgets for mental health services become subject to cuts of 1.5% in 2015/16.
Despite a commitment to protect the overall NHS budget, funding for mental health services has fallen in real terms for the last three years in a row. The current proposal would continue this trend, resulting in no new investment and more cuts to vital mental health services.
Mental ill health is the single biggest cause of lost days in employment in this country, and a significant factor in the majority of suicides. Just 1 in 4 of people affected by depression and anxiety are receiving support, and more than a third of people experiencing psychosis are missing out on treatment.
Subjecting mental health services to cuts would not address these important challenges, or help tackle the huge and long-standing disparity between funding for mental health and physical health. NHS England’s recent commitment to invest £120 million in mental health services to help introduce new access standards, whilst welcome, could be dwarfed by the suggested ‘efficiency savings’.