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Promotion, prevention and early intervention

Thursday 21 April 2011

Every pound spent on parenting programmes to prevent conduct disorder in young children saves the UK £8 over a child’s lifetime, according to a report published today by the Department of Health, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Centre for Mental Health and Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King’s.  This economic impact is over and above the positive effects on the child’s wellbeing. And the economic returns from school-based programmes to deal with bullying and other behavioural problems are even larger.

Mental Health Promotion and Mental Illness Prevention: the Economic Case also found that early intervention psychosis teams, which work with young people in their first episode of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, save the economy a total of £18 for every pound spent on them. Suicide training for GPs saves £44 for every pound while bridge safety barriers save £54. Screening and brief intervention in primary care for alcohol misuse saves nearly £12 for every pound invested and workplace health promotion programmes save nearly £10.

Interventions often result in savings over short time frames while a large proportion of these savings accrue outside health. 

Mental Health Promotion and Mental Illness Prevention: the Economic Case is published by the Department of Health, the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the LSE, the Centre for the Economics of Mental Health and Centre for Mental Health. 

Mental ill health is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, contributing almost 23% of the overall burden of disease compared to about 16% each for cancer and cardiovascular disease. The economic and social costs of mental health problems in England are estimated at around £105 billion each year.

Paul Burstow MP, Care Services Minister, said: ‘Mental health is not a matter of them and us, it’s about all of us. At some point one in four of us will suffer a mental health problem. The Coalition Government has made investment in mental health a priority. This report makes a powerful economic case for that investment.

‘Primary Care Trusts and GP Consortia should take a careful look at this study and use it to commission better mental health services.’

Professor Martin Knapp from the IoP, who led the research team, said: ‘This study examined 15 forms of mental illness prevention, early intervention and mental health promotion to gauge their economic value. It shows that many of these interventions are outstandingly good value for money. Most are low in cost and many become self financing over time, saving public expenditure as well as radically improving the quality of people’s lives.’

Centre for Mental Health joint Chief Executive Sean Duggan said: “Mental health issues tend to affect people early. Half of cases occur by age 14. Yet most current public spending on mental health is focused on the results of problems, on crisis intervention and expensive longer-term care and support rather than on prevention and early intervention. 

'We need to rebalance investment, not by abandoning people with long-term needs or those in a crisis but by developing early intervention programmes that have good evidence behind them while improving the quality of care people receive at all ages to manage their mental health.'

The report informed the Department of Health's new mental health strategy, No Health Without Mental Health, published on 2 February 2011. It was accompanied by a Department of Health report, The Economic Case for Improving Efficiency and Quality in Mental Health, published on the same day.

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