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Mental Health Severely Underfunded on the NHS


Less than 10% of the NHS budget is being spent on mental health services.

NHS spending far from reflects the fact that 23% of the service's burden of illness is made up of conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Luciana Berger, shadow public health minister, condemned the findings (from freedom of information requests to England's 211 GP-led local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)) as an "alarming postcode lottery" being faced by people who need help from vital mental health services. 67% were shown to be spending less than 10% of their budget on such services.

Surrey Heath, Solihull and Devon (Northern, Eastern and Western) were found to be the lowest spenders on mental health provisions, allocating between just 6.55% and 6.74% of their budgets. London was shown to be at the opposite end of the scale, with West London, Central London and Lambeth spending between 16.69% and 18.02%.

President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Prof. Sir Simon Wessely, said the discrepancies between levels of serious mental illness in each CCG compared to the levels of spending were "extremely worrying".

Normal Lamb, the care and support minister denounced the findings, "it is unacceptable to disadvantage mental health when allocating funds".

In order to combat the problems, plans have been announced by the coalition to introduce the first maximum waiting times for mental health treatment.

Guardian Comments

We take the first 10 comments from the article we've condensed and create a summary of public opinion for you. Many use the comment section to share their personal experiences of grievances with NHS mental health services.

Although there is praise for A&E, the aftercare appears to be what most are upset about, with one commenter even claiming: "My dog was better than ANY pills!!"

Some suggest that mental health treatment is "swept under the carpet" due to people with mental health issues being less likely to complain, because of the stigma that still exists. However, one commenter remarks that she is privileged to work in a "flourishing" mental health service which understands that people need more time to heal. The commenter compares mental health to surgical operations, claiming there "would be an outcry" if they were expected to be completed in "30% of the time" that evidence shows is needed, implying that this may be the case for mental health treatment. Blame is occasionally put on the "target-culture" of the NHS, claiming that those with mental health issues cannot be given a predetermined time scale for recovery.

Some remark on the "enormous financial and personal cost" of people being "sent across the country" for mental health treatment. Others use the comments to provide suggestions for improvements. One commenter questions whether some mental health issues "fall into identifiable categories", and whether these categories could be used to create "online generalised therapy... with live moderated chatrooms as an additional helpline". Yet the replies to this comment tend to be negative.

Many appear to attribute the problems to government failings. A number make (often rather personal!) negative comments about politicians such as Norman Lamb and Iain Duncan-Smith, whereas one commenter claims that Ed Milliband could provide the much-needed help if he focuses on "social and economic and environmental justice".

The overriding consensus from the Guardian article's comments is a dismal one. The majority of the public back the article's findings up with personal anecdotes. Most appear very frustrated with the current system, evidenced in many negative personal experiences being voiced as opposed to few positive ones.

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