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Report highlights deep cuts in mental health funding since 2008

Posted on 04/09/2015
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A new report from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London highlights substantial reductions in the resources dedicated to mental health treatment and care in England since 2008.

Across England reductions in social service expenditure have led to a decrease of 48 per cent in the number of people with mental illness who receive such care, while direct NHS expenditure was reduced in some local areas by up to 32 per cent, according to the International Journal of Mental Health Systems (IJMHS) study.

Since the economic recession began in 2008 anecdotal reports suggest that mental health services in England have experienced a drop in funding, although published data on this subject - until now - has been limited.

The study identified all available information on governmental mental health investment in England over the last decade, including government Budgetary Programme Data, online searches of published research, Department of Health policy documents and Freedom of Information request reports, as well as data from experts in the field.

Although the prevalence of mental illness has been observed to increase during times of economic recession, the authors found that 30,000 people with mental health problems have lost their social care support since 2005 following a £260m shortfall in funding due to cuts to local authority budgets. According to the researchers, this equates to a relative fall of 48 per cent of people receiving social care.

In addition, one NHS Trust outlined in the Chief Medical Officer’s 2014 annual report that expenditure on mental health services had fallen by at least 32 per cent between 2009 and 2014.

Professor Graham Thornicroft from the Health Service and Population Research (HSPR) Department at the IoPPN, said: ‘Our findings appear to run counter to the government policy of ‘parity of esteem’ for mental and physical healthcare.’

Parity of esteem involves ensuring that there is as much focus on improving mental as physical health, and that people with mental health problems receive an equal standard of care.

Professor Thornicroft added: ‘These results show that deep and disturbing cuts have taken pace in expenditure for people with mental health problems since 2008. Although there is a governmental commitment to parity in treating people with physical and mental health conditions -this has not yet been implemented. The need for substantial new investment in mental health care is now crystal clear.’

Notes to editors

Paper reference: Docherty, M et al (2015) ‘Specialist mental health services in England in 2014: overview of funding, access and levels of care’ International Journal of Mental Health Systems (IJMHS) doi:10.1186/s13033-015-0023-9

For further media information please contact Jack Stonebridge, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London on +44 (0) 20 7848 5377 or jack.stonebridge@kcl.ac.uk.

For further information about King’s visit our ‘King’s in Brief’ page.

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