Lives are being put at risk by cuts to programmes tackling mental health problem. There was a timely reminder from a group of top mental health charities yesterday. The organisations - like Mind and Rethink - warn that ending early intervention schemes has created a "lost generation" of young people. They say that cuts to local government budgets have led to a £90m shortfall in mental health social care funding, and next year mental health trusts are being asked to cut a further 20% more from their budgets than hospitals. NHS England says it has put procedures in place to ensure mental and physical health are treated equally in future. But, frankly, evidence on the ground says otherwise.
We have heard much less about the damage of cuts in funding of late, though we know the squeeze on public spending continues. Councils continue to look at further deductions. It is often the services to the most vulnerable that suffer most, so this warning from the mental health charities is important. It's also the case that this is a huge opportunity for our sector to help those most in need. We continue to need to divert resources into prevention and care in the community.
I was with Duncan Selbie, CEO of Public Health England yesterday morning. He clearly sees the need for more action from the third sector. The bizarre way we run our public services means we cut the most cost-effective ways of tackling illness and protect the most expensive, most of all of hospital treatment (when an early intervention would have avoided the need for that treatment). Cuts to early interventions on mental health are a ‘false economy’ according to the Centre for Mental Health. We will pay the price in future.