A new report from NHS Providers 'Mental health services: addressing the care deficit'looks at the levels of demand for mental health services reported by frontline leaders and the reasons behind the growing pressures.
The report identifies widespread concerns about benefits cuts and the impact of universal credit. It also indicates that loneliness, homelessness and financial hardship are adding to pressures on NHS mental health services.
“Changes to the benefits system in recent years, and austerity generally, have had a devastating impact on the lives of many people with mental health problems. It’s clear that difficult life circumstances and mental health problems are closely linked, yet the relationship between them isn’t taken into account enough. If you have a mental health problem you are more likely to need support from the benefits system, experience poor housing and may struggle to stay in work without the right support, while the enormous challenges of dealing with difficult life events and trying access support can take a huge toll on mental health.
“The punitive, complicated benefits system in particular is making people unwell. People tell us they are treated with suspicion about the nature of their health problem and how it affects them, by someone who lacks expertise, knowledge or sensitivity when it comes to mental health. They are then having their support cut when they’re not able to do the things that are asked of them.
“Unsurprisingly, demand for NHS mental health services has gone up and while we welcome the long-term plan and the funding attached to it, this should be seen as the start, as a down payment for future investment, and as only one part of the solution. We need a cross-governmental plan for mental health that looks at all aspects of people’s lives and recognises the part that all government departments can play in helping people live mentally healthy lives.”