An esteemed report has found that hundreds of lives are being needlessly lost to suicide owing to government failures in addressing mental health difficulties.
The Mental Health Taskforce, set up a year ago under the leadership of Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind, blames chronic underinvestment and poor NHS management for the problems.
Following an official NHS review, it is expected that David Cameron will be recommended to invest a further £1 billion in addressing mental health issues in the NHS.
The think tank which produced the report has cited the attitude of the Prime Minister as being particularly obstructive to the issue being dealt with efficiently and effectively.
In this context, the Mental Health Taskforce calls on the Prime Minister to meet the “clear need for leadership” to introduce vital reforms, and calls for all new Government policies to be assessed for their impact on depression and anxiety.
Figures relating to mental health clearly indicate that the issue has not been satisfactorily addressed and mitigated against in recent years.
In particular, it is known that mental illness is the largest single cause of disability, accounting for 23% of NHS activity, yet this only attracts only 6% of research spending.
The scope of mental health problems in the UK is extremely worrying, and this is perhaps underlined most succinctly by the fact that 25% of adults suffer at least one diagnosable mental-health problem annually.
Suicides continue to rise, and it has already been documented that this is a particularly huge problem for young men.
In fact, suicide is the largest cause of death for men aged between 15 and 49, with the total number of suicides averaging nearly 4,500 yearly in the UK.
One in ten children have a ‘diagnosable mental health problem’, half of all adult syndromes are already established by the age of 14, and one in five women fall ill psychologically in the first year after giving birth.
Yet research indicates that the NHS is continually fails to serve the needs of these people, and significantly increased expenditure in this area is definitely required, at least according to the task force.
“Suicide is not inevitable, and we need action to ensure that suicide is never the result of the NHS not meeting someone’s needs,” the report concludes.
The Taskforce says that by 2020 there should be 70,000 more children and young people able to access to mental health care, and calls for £150 million to be spent on tackling eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
With a £1 billion programme of spending recommended by the organisation, a central pillar of the new government approach should be £280 million of extra expenditure on anxiety and depression.
Mental health assessments with people coming into contact with the criminal justice system should also be routine.