Back in 2012 the World Health Organisation released a statement suggesting depression would be the number one reason for fatalities across the globe by 2020, and predicts that it will out strip deaths which will occur due to cancer, and heart disease combined. It seems concerning that 3 years on, mental health is still seen as the 'poor relation' of the health service. There is perhaps some light at the end of the tunnel with the launch of a cross-party campaign earlier this week which aims to again raise awareness regarding the funding mismatch between mental health, and physical health. Statistics have shown that most NHS trusts limit spending on mental health to just 8% of their budgets, whereas cancer and heart difficulties are allocated almost 12.5% of budgets.
"Some estimates put this cost as high as £100bn a year, spent on visits to A&E, lost jobs, unemployment benefits, homelessness support, police time, burden on the criminal justice system and prison places,” they write. “So the moral and economic argument for a new approach is clear. And so is the human and moral argument.” The Guardian (2015, Nov 2).
On average an individual suffering with a mental health difficulty will 'spend' far less money than those with physical health difficulties. More importantly dramatic and life changing results can be seen within a few months of receiving psychological therapies. By increasing the NHS spend on mental health by even a few percent would enable vast numbers of individuals to receive the support they need, and sooner. This would enable more people suffering with difficulties such as; stress, depression, or anxiety to return to work. Research suggests that the sooner an individual receives support, the quicker they are able to recover, and the more successful their outcomes. Those who are stuck on long waiting lists often develop more severe levels of difficulty - which inevitably causes the cost of treatment to rise.
Being able to identify, and support individuals with mental health difficulties within work, school and other contexts is vital, and in order to successfully reduce the devastating effects of mental health difficulties on the individual, and society everyone - not just the health service, needs to play a part.