Mind, the mental health charity, has discovered local authorities in England spend only 1% of their public health budget on prevention of mental illness.
Using information gained following an FOI request Mind have shown local councils will spend £40 million on mental illness prevention in 2015-16.
In the same year over £600 million will be spent on sexual health and £160 million on stop smoking measures.
Local authorities are required by the Department of Health to report on their public health spending against a set list of categories. Currently mental health is reported under ‘miscellaneous’ along with 14 other areas, while ‘stop smoking measures’ and ‘promotion of physical activity’ both merit their own categories.
The data gathered by Mind also indicated that some authorities spend nothing on the prevention of mental illness.
The news comes at a time when twitter demonstrates growing anger from public figures at the apparent lack of funding for mental health:
Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, responded to the data by explaining how much more could be done:
“One in four people will experience a mental health problem every year, yet so much of this could be prevented by targeted programmes aimed at groups we know to be at risk, such as pregnant women, people who are isolated, or those living with a long term physical health problem.”
Cost of Mental Health
According to the open letter to the government calling for parity in the treatment of physical and mental health, this lack of prevention is costly.
Some figures estimate “£100 billion a year is spent on visits to A&E, lost jobs, unemployment benefits, homelessness support, police time and even prison places”.
Paul Farmer added: “The personal costs are immeasurable, and the wider economic cost is huge. Prevention is always better than cure and ignoring the problem simply doesn’t make sense.”
Featured image accredited to Miran Rijavec