Department of Health: Cost of Mental Health Care Drops down for the First Time in a Decade

By Monica Wilson on August 13, 2012

After 10 years of continuous effort and hard work, UK is starting to reap the benefits of investing on mental health care. In the latest report from the Department of Health (DoH), spending on services fell down by £150 million – the first ever reduction within a decade.

Investment in mental health services for working adults dropped down by 1% to £6.63bn since fall of 2001. For the elderly, it went down by 3.1% to £2.83bn. It is to be noted that in 2001, the government has allocated £4.1bn for mental health care.

The report shows that spending on three major areas of mental health care – crisis resolution, early intervention and outreach is the major factor that affects the lowering down of expenditure.

It is estimated that over 6 million Britons suffer from depression every year, costing the UK more than £75bn on treatments and services.

First expenditure fall in 10 years

This, according to the DoH, only shows that people are given adequate treatments long before their conditions gets worse. This in turn, prevents the need for costly medical services. The report also revealed that the investment on psychological therapies increases significantly by 6% in 2010 to 2011, and now forms 7% of the expenses spent on direct services nationwide. For the past three years, funding for such therapies doubled (from £197m to £386m), and continues to rise, explained a representative from the DoH. Because of this, more people were given access to psychological therapies, reducing hospital admissions and delivering long-term savings, they added.

Alongside the promotion of psychological therapies, the DoH said that the investment in memory assessment services has also gone up. This suggests that the government’s campaign to raise awareness on dementia and its symptoms has taken effect.

Does it mean more efficient service?

But some organisations aren’t too happy with the report. ‘The government’s talk about the importance of mental health has come to nothing’, said a representative from the Labour party. They mentioned the huge budget cut on NHS, which according to them, has led to ‘thousands of nursing posts axed and treatments being rationed.’

Furthermore, charities argued that there’s a wide disparity in mental health spending. According to charity Mind, there’s a considerable variation in service provision. For instance, they pointed out that one in five people still wait for more than a year before finally getting access to mental health service, while others are seen in less than 28 days.

‘This report shows a worrying trend’, says Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind. This shows that during difficult times, mental health care becomes an easy target for budget cuts, he added.

The DoH emphasised the need for more improvements in facilitating health care services. To achieve this, they call out to organisations to utilise the ‘levers and powers’ provided to them, to help enhance the wellbeing and mental health of people in a more efficient way.


Sources of this article:

Investment in mental health: working age adult and older adult reports, Department of Health

Mental health spending falls for first time in 10 years, The Guardian UK



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