Is the NHS failing Mental Health Patients?

The NHS has announced that they are slicing £4.5 million from their spending on mental health between 2017 and 2018. Walsall will suffer the most, losing £1.9 million. In addition, other critically concerning areas include Sefton, St Helens, North Yorkshire, and the Isle of Wight.

These cuts come after the publication of the Five Year Forward View. Effectively, the NHS states Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) must increase their spending by £1 billion to meet mental health needs over the next five years.

It’s now becoming more difficult to brush this crisis under the rug. Celebrities like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Lady Gaga are all promoting awareness of mental health issues. Particularly, the importance of changing negative perceptions by talking about mental health in a manner similar to physical health.

In short, awareness grows regarding care for people with health issues we can’t always definitively see. Information and advice will drive our ability to recognise it when it happens. Moreover, psychological therapies for matters including eating disorders and tackling mental health care for children and young people (see below) will grow exponentially.

Therefore, the question that’s worth asking: is the NHS England and Wales failing mental health patients?

Study: Anyone can suffer from mental illness

Findings from the Mental Health Foundation shows that no one is safe from the risk of suffering from a mental illness. In fact, almost 50% of adults believe they have experienced a diagnosable mental health condition, yet only around 30% of them have been given a diagnosis. At 26%, women with a mental health problem between 16-24 are far more likely to struggle than males in their age bracket.

Especially with only 9% of young men receiving a diagnosis. However, this may be due to a lack of willingness of men to seek help for a mental health issue.

The unemployed are, particularly at risk. More than 60% of people in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance have been diagnosed with common mental health problems. Meanwhile, the same number say they have had suicidal thoughts.

  • 43% attempt suicide, and;
  • Another 33% admit to self-harming.

It is clear this group of people needs swift and direct support. Nevertheless, how can this be possible with such significant budget cuts?

The NHS Mental Health crisis

There is some evidence that supports the belief that the NHS is failing mental health patients. The Mental Health Taskforce undertakes the studies that force the recommendations in the Five Year Forward View. It reveals that although mental illness encompasses 23% of NHS activity, they allocate 6% of the research budget on it.

We offer other insights into the NHS mental health crisis as well. Whether its the Mental Health Act or social care issues, The Medical Negligence Experts has concerns about tackling mental health matters.

Investing in youth mental health treatment

Catching mental health problems at a young age is proving particularly difficult.

To date, four out of 10 NHS GPs won’t refer children with mental health problems to the NHS services. Simply put, they don’t have confidence in the system: 18-month waiting times and an overwhelmed mental health service tend to have that effect.

There might be a smarter move instead of waiting to treat mental health conditions in adults. Some argue that investing in youth services would have long-term benefits on the population and the NHS budget. Nearly half of adults struggling with poor mental health had conditions at age 15.

It is unreasonable to expect the NHS to be solely responsible for the mental health of the nation. Westminster’s pockets are not bottomless. Normalising mental health in society – much like cancer and heart disease – will help remove the prejudice.

Consider such campaigns as Heads Together, which is run in conjunction with charities like Mind, YoungMinds, CALM, and Best Beginnings. Accordingly, it can encourage people to access support earlier when less intervention may be required to be successful

The NHS is not letting down all mental health patients, but it is not unreasonable to say that reducing the amount of money some areas have to spend on treating mental health will have a detrimental effect. Meanwhile, we need to continue to support charities and organisations which promote the benefits of increased awareness and early intervention.

If you would like to discuss a potential claim for NHS mental health negligence, contact one of our legal specialists today.