A think-tank has warned that the nation’s mental health is ‘at a tipping point’ in the aftermath of the pandemic and has urged the government to make investment in this area a priority in the comprehensive spending review later this month.
The call from the Centre for Mental Health (CMH) has coincided with research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) that has suggested the public is strongly in favour of extra cash being put into ill health prevention as well as public health generally.
The CMH, in a submission to government ahead of the spending review on 27 October, said urgent action on mental health was needed if the country is not to face ‘a perfect storm’ further down the line.
The centre’s chief executive Sarah Hughes said: “The last 18 months have put great pressure on the nation’s mental health. For many, this has been a traumatic time. With the end of the furlough scheme and the cut to many people’s Universal Credit payments, we now face a ‘perfect storm’ with continued risks from the virus, seasonal flu and the economic impacts of Brexit.”
She urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to make mental health a priority within the spending review. “During the next three years, we expect about 10 million people to need mental health support as a result of the pandemic. There are already 1.5 million people waiting for mental health care, and many of the effects are yet to come,” Hughes said.
“Our mental health is at a tipping point. The spending review could make that into a turning point. Putting mental health first will ensure public money is spent for the public good, and it is a wise investment with both immediate and longer-term benefits for us all,” she added.
The RSPH poll, meanwhile, suggested that nearly nine in 10 people (88%) felt at least 10% of the total health budget should be allocated for prevention and health promotion.
The majority (70%) of those polled also wanted the government to spend more on health prevention and health promotion, against just 7% who said the opposite.
RSPH chief executive Christina Marriott said: “One reason why the UK has had so many Covid-deaths is the underlying poor health of the population and the pandemic has brought the long-standing health and social inequalities into sharp focus. It is an urgent necessity to address the health inequalities on individual and systemic levels for the benefit of all in society and the government needs a plan as to how to do this.
“It is vital that the next spending review delivers on what the secretary of state promises and the public wants – boost the nation’s health and reduce avoidable illnesses. The chancellor must remember, without health, there is no wealth,” she added.