OVERVIEWFrom both a wellbeing and economic perspective, there is no doubt that mental health issues need to be addressed with the same urgency and vigour that physical health problems receive. David Cameron sees the wellbeing of the nation as a key indicator to success and recognises that mental health is central to quality of life as well as economic prosperity. Each year the single most expensive cost to the NHS is mental health. Factoring in the impact and costs of poor mental health within other public services, such as education, welfare support and the criminal justice system, the cost rises to an estimated £105bn. Of course it is not just on cost grounds but is about providing a more effective and productive service that helps children and adults who develop mental health problems to recover as quickly as possible. The cross-government strategy announced in 2011 called for coordinated action, from early interventions and identification to improving care, support and recovery rates of people who experience mental health problems.
The strategy will focus on tackling the underlying causes of mental ill health by putting the emphasis on early intervention and prevention in partnership with the NHS, local government and the third sector. Central to these plans is the announcement of £400m funding for improving access to modern, evidence-based psychological therapies over the next four years. The investment in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme will ensure that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other therapies will be readily available and it is expected that by 2015 a million people will judge themselves as 'recovered' though IAPT and 75,000 will have been able to return to work.
For many people, recovery from mental illness is closely linked with other social factors such as income, housing, education, employment and social care and support. The new health and wellbeing boards will have a key role in integrating more effective commissioning so that it includes a social model of recovery and not just clinical care. With the NHS having to find £20bn in efficiency savings, future commissioning in the NHS still shrouded in confusion, and leading mental health experts expressing concerns that mental health is still 'largely invisible', what does the future hold for mental healthcare?
A New Approach to Mental Health will tackle the big issues facing mental healthcare, such as how to deliver a coordinated approach across the NHS, local government, voluntary sector, employers and other public sector bodies that will improve outcomes. Speakers will focus on how to improve quality and standards of care, support and safety, and how to decrease the experiences of discrimination and stigma towards people with mental health problems.