Damning report on mental illness
Three-quarters of people suffering from mental illness are not getting treatment, experts have said.
A damning report concludes that the NHS is failing people suffering from mental illness. The authors of the report say that the under-treatment of people suffering from mental illnesses is the most "glaring case of health inequality" in Britain.
Two-fifths of patients suffering from anxiety or depression can recover if they are treated by means such as cognitive behavioural therapy. The authors say that if such treatments were more widely available, it would cost the NHS little or nothing because it would produce savings in other healthcare areas.
The report by the Mental Health Policy Group from the London School of Economics (LSE) also found that effective psychological therapies exist but are not widely available.
The authors, who include doctors, psychologists, NHS managers and economists, condemn local health commissioners for inappropriately using allocated mental health funding and say that in some areas mental health provisions are being cut. The authors also recommend better training of GPs and suggest that recruitment into psychiatry should be increased.
They call for an "imperative" upgrade of specialist help to provide children with affective therapies, as there are 700,000 children in Britain with behavioural problems, anxiety or depression. Professor Lord Layard of the LSE Centre for Economic Performance said that mental health is so prevalent in society that it deserves its own cabinet minister.
He said: "If local NHS commissioners want to improve their budgets, they should all be expanding their provision of psychological therapy. It will save them so much on their physical healthcare budgets that the net cost will be little or nothing. Mental health is so central to the health of individuals and of society that it needs its own cabinet minister."
The report concludes: "Mentally ill people are particularly vulnerable. They are often afraid to seek help or even say they are unwell, and so are their relatives. But they represent nearly one half of all health-related suffering in this country. Within the NHS they represent the greatest areas of unmet need among adults and children."
Mental health charities welcomed the report. Mental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Andrew McCulloch added: "The report underlines the fact that mental health remains a poor relation to physical health despite the major links between depression, diabetes and heart disease, for example.
"We have to tackle a situation where only 25% of people with common forms of mental illness are receiving treatment and where there is massive under-investment in mental health research."