Chancellor reveals extra £2bn a year for NHS mental health support

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An extra £2 billion will be invested into NHS mental health support over the next five years, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has revealed.

Funding for mental health services will grow as a share of the overall NHS budget by 2023/24, Philip Hammond said, to create “parity of esteem” between mental health and physical health services.

Up to £250 million a year will be invested into new “crisis services”, including 24-hour support through the NHS 111 telephone helpline; children and young people’s crisis teams; mental health support in every major A&E; specialist mental health support ambulances; and more community services, such as “crisis cafes”.

Access to the Individual Placement and Support programme, which helps those with severe mental illness find and retain employment, will also be increased. It is expected that the service will benefit around 55,000 people by 2023/24.

Announcing the increased funding in his Budget yesterday, Philip Hammond said: “There are many pressing demands on additional NHS funding, but few more pressing than the needs of those who suffer from mental illness.

“These new services will ensure that people suffering from a crisis, young or old, can get the help they need, ending the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and ending too the tragedy of too many lives lost to suicide.

“We are proud to have made this extraordinary commitment to funding our NHS.”

Important Budget for mental health

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, described the Budget as an “important one for mental health”, but thought more needed to be done to improve NHS mental health support.

“The £2 billion committed should be seen as more of a ‘down-payment’ on what needs to be much faster growth in future,” he said.

“One way to accelerate improvement is to make sure that mental health is a priority across the whole of the NHS, with significant investment in areas such as prevention, primary care and mental health support for people with long-term physical health conditions.

“If the £2 billion is for mental health services specifically, we should expect to see investment in other parts of the NHS on top of this.

“We look forward to seeing how mental health is reflected across the NHS long-term plan when it is published shortly.”

Sarah Hughes, chief executive at the Centre for Mental Health, said it is crucial that the NHS invests money into services that prevent emergencies from happening.

“Increasing mental health spending as a proportion of NHS funding for the next five years is an important step towards parity. It is vital that this investment is earmarked for mental health to ensure it brings about the promised improvements in care and support and to put right the decades of under-investment in mental health services throughout the NHS,” she commented.

Early intervention

Early intervention is a crucial step in ensuring that employees with poor mental health are able to minimise time off work, suggested Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for group risk protection representative body Group Risk Development.

“Mental health issues accounted for 24% of all group income protection claims last year – more than any other reason,” she said.

“As an industry, we know how vital early intervention is in supporting people through mental ill health and moving them towards recovery and back into work, so it’s really positive to see that government is taking steps towards better achieving this.”

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