The NHS is being accused of failing to address the needs of those suffering from mental health problems. A new report shows the NHS is failing people living with a mental illness. The report, by the Mental Health Policy Group from the London School of Economics or LSE, concludes that the lack of treatment for mental illness is the most “glairing case of health inequality” in Britain.
While two-fifths of those living with depression or anxiety are able to make a full recovery with treatment, the report’s authors say proper treatment is often not available. They believe this is a tremendous missed opportunity. The LSE researchers found that any costs incurred by making depression and anxiety treatment widely available would be offset by the savings these services would provide in other areas.
To help fix what they see as a weak link in the NHS, the report’s authors are calling for an “imperative” upgrade of specialist help especially for children. This would provide for the approximately 700,000 children in Britain living with behavioural health problems.
Professor Lord Layard of the LSE Centre for Economic Performance said, "If local NHS commissioners want to improve their budgets, they should all be expanding their provision of psychological therapy. It will save them so much on their physical healthcare budgets that the net cost will be little or nothing. Mental health is so central to the health of individuals and of society that it needs its own cabinet minister."
This need for better mental health care was echoed by several mental health charities. Mental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Andrew McCulloch said, "The report underlines the fact that mental health remains a poor relation to physical health despite the major links between depression, diabetes and heart disease, for example.”
"We have to tackle a situation where only 25% of people with common forms of mental illness are receiving treatment and where there is massive under-investment in mental health research."
This under-investment may be down to local health commissioners cutting mental health funds or using these funds inappropriately. This accusation was has been levelled by many of the report’s authors, including doctors, psychologists, NHS managers and economists. They believe better management of money alone could help solve many of the problems mental health issues pose for the NHS.
The report concludes: "Mentally ill people are particularly vulnerable. They are often afraid to seek help or even say they are unwell, and so are their relatives. But they represent nearly one half of all health-related suffering in this country. Within the NHS they represent the greatest areas of unmet need among adults and children."