Funding is welcome, but root causes of mental illness are growing

Stress - Mental Healthsource: The Guardian
published: 19 February 2016

The impression is being created of unstoppable momentum towards expansion and improvement of mental health services. Reports, cash and pledges of action are piling up. But it is hard to identify what will change and from where the money will come. Meanwhile, the problems that give rise to mental illnesses are growing.

Hitting hyperbolic heights this week, NHS England promised “the biggest transformation of mental health care across the NHS in a generation”. In the wake of the report (pdf) by the Mental Health Taskforce, led by Mind chief executive Paul Farmer, NHS England pledged to help millions more people and invest more than £1bn a year by 2020–21.

The commitment of NHS England and the government to giving mental health the focus it deserves is not in doubt. What is problematic is their ability to deliver on the promises being made.

Announcing telephone number-sized quantities of cash to “transform” the NHS is now routine, but the shine soon fades as the realities of tight funding kick in.

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