The facts about mental health in the UK speak for themselves:
The demand for psychological treatment has escalated dramatically in recent years. Whilst Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) treatments has risen, it has not kept pace with demand and increasing numbers of referrals are being refused. The net effect is that treatment thresholds are rising – sufferers have to be in ever deeper crisis before they can access care. Those accepted for treatment are then faced with weak pathways and absurd waiting lists, leaving sufferers, families and communities in despair and anguish. This is unacceptable.
The total number of beds available for mental patients has steadily declined in recent years in response to acute funding pressures in the NHS and a latent preference for physical illness over psychosis. This is creating intolerable pressure on families and care in the community resources and frequently results in young people being sent for treatment hundreds of miles from where they live. This is unacceptable.
There have been modest increases in mental health expenditure on adult care pathways over the past decade, although mental health funding is still very low as a percentage of overall NHS spend. Child & Adolescent expenditure has remained flat and represents less than 10% of mental health spend. This is ridiculous. If 75% of psychosis pre-dates higher education and demand for treatment is escalating, how is it possible to flat-line an already tiny capital commitment? Has nobody woken up to the fact that if we produce more resilient and psychologically literate young people then the adult incidence of psychosis will fall sharply and thereby reduce the overall burden of mental illness on the health system? At present, the NHS is trying to deal with the lifetime consequences of adolescent psychosis. Surely, it would be more effective to fundamentally redirect resources to young people and thereby address the root of the problem?
A more resilient and emotionally literate generation will go forward to better fulfil its economic, social and cultural potential whilst simultaneously reducing its impact on public healthcare. The moral, political and fiscal arguments in favour of prevention and early intervention in adolescence are compelling and incontrovertible. Current funding structures are so hopelessly misaligned that it beggars belief.
A&E admissions for self-harm, including attempted suicide, are rising across the country. This includes Cambridgeshire. Whilst the incidence of psychosis increases with deprivation and social dysfunction, no section of the community is immune and psychological disorder is rising in even the most affluent and stable localities. Faced with often insurmountable difficulties in accessing CAMHS/IAPT therapies via the NHS, growing numbers of young people and adults are falling into crisis and A&E services. A more resilient and mentally literate population will place less burden on already severely stretched emergency services.