Mind reveal ‘unacceptably’ low spending by east of England local authorities on public mental health

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Mental health charity Mind has found that local authorities in England spend an average of 1.36 per cent of their public health budget on mental health.

Some local authorities will spend nothing on preventing mental health problems this year while many areas “had no clear plan for tackling poor mental health”, according to the charity.

Local authorities’ total annual spend on preventing physical health problems is described by Mind as “considerable”.

Some £76m goes toward increasing physical activity, £108m for anti-obesity, £160m for smoking cessation and sexual health initiatives cost £671m according to the local authority revenue expenditure and financing 2014/15 budget.

The charity’s research has found that equivalent spend for preventing mental health problems stands at less than £40m.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Just like physical health, we all have mental health. Mind’s findings show, however, that while local authorities are happy to spend on preventing physical health problems, their equivalent spending on mental health is unacceptably low.

“We need to invest in everyone’s mental health, particularly for people who are more likely to become unwell such as younger people, pregnant women, people who are isolated, or those living with a long term physical health problem.”

Mind has said that preventing mental health problems developing “is just as important as physical health”.

Data on public mental health spend was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Mind, and sent to every local authority in England.

It showed that some areas do not plan to spend any money on preventing mental health problems this year while other responses “painted a picture of enormous confusion about what local public health teams should do to help prevent people becoming mentally unwell”.

Mr Farmer added: “With demand for mental health services increasing, antidepressants on the up and more people accessing talking therapies, we are beginning to see the scale of the unmet need for mental health services in England.

“As a society we must start looking at what we can do to help prevent people from developing mental health problems in the first place.

“Local authorities need much clearer guidance and support on how best to tackle mental health problems.

“We want the next Government to introduce a national strategy to ensure local authorities know what to do, and use their budgets to prevent mental health problems developing and reduce the number of people becoming unwell.”

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