Mental health charity Mind has called upon the Government to increase expansion of NHS services if it is serious about mental health and the increased need caused by Covid.
The leading mental health charity has also welcomed a bid by the former Chief Executive of NHS England to make sure this Government and future governments must report on the progress being made to increase investment in mental health services in the NHS.
Lord Simon Stevens has tabled an amendment which will be debated in the House of Lords today (Tuesday 11 January 2022) and would make sure the UK Government is responsible for increasing investment in line with demand for mental health services for years to come.
The Mental Health Investment Standard set out in the Long Term Plan is an existing commitment for all Clinical Commissioning Groups in England to disproportionately increase funding in mental health services in recognition of historic underfunding and increased prevalence of poor mental health. This amendment would make sure the UK Government increased investment in line with need beyond the scope of the Long Term Plan.
Responding to the amendment, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“The pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of a nation, and as a result our mental health services are under even more pressure. There are currently 1.5 million people on a waiting list for treatment and a further eight million who would benefit from treatment can't get on the list. While physical health services are stretched too, mental health services have been disproportionately affected and were lagging behind even before the pandemic. We know that the longer people wait for treatment, the more unwell they become, and the more intensive – and expensive- the treatment they need becomes. Far too many people are being left without support, which is why additional funding for mental health services is vital.
“It’s significant that the former Chief Executive of NHS England has tabled an amendment to this Bill, given he knows better than most the best ways to improve how we fund mental health services, and how different parts of the system can be held to account. If the UK Government is serious about ‘levelling up’ and treating mental and physical health equally, they must accept this amendment, which would make sure they were accountable for increasing mental health spending in line with need.
“There should also be a commitment to ending inappropriate out of area placements which see patients - including young people – sent miles from their homes and loved ones due to bed shortages. We also want to see maximum waiting time standards for mental health treatment, the wellbeing of our hardworking NHS staff prioritised, and improvements made to the buildings and environments they work within to make sure they are safe and therapeutic.
"Finally, it is crucial that the recommendations made in the Mental Health Act review so that everyone who has been detained against their will is treated with dignity, compassion and respect when they are at their most unwell.”