Why David Cameron’s boasts on World Mental Health Day defy the facts.

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Why David Cameron’s boasts on World Mental Health Day defy the facts.

 

Today is World Mental Health Day, and the government have not lost the opportunity to plug their credentials on taking mental health seriously. Alas, there has been no comment from the Health Secretary yet, instead it has been left for the Minister for Disabled Persons to make a comment, which the Prime Minister’s official account has cheerily endorsed.  In the Minister’s article he announces £40m to help those with mental health difficulties into work. I thought I would take the opportunity to remind readers of the government’s real record on mental health.

 

Mental Health Beds

Under David Cameron, 4,946 Mental Health Beds have been axed, a reduction of one fifth in the overall number of beds. On 7 September 2015, there wasn’t a single mental health bed available in the whole of England. This has led, among other things, to juveniles being detained in police cells because there are not mental health beds available for them.

 

Mental Health Nurses

Under David Cameron, 4,528 Pyschiatric nurses of all types (fte) have been axed, a reduction of one tenth in the overall staffing levels.  The Royal College of Nursing warn that during this time demand for mental health services has actually climbed by 30%.

 

Overall Mental Health Funding

There is no agreement on how much money has been cut from mental health funding.  An investigation by the BBC revealed £600m of mental health cuts (here) while an IVT study showed that £85m had been cut (here). The HSCIC show a £110m reduction in adult mental health spending (here). Jeremy Hunt, of course, disputes all of this and claims that spending on mental health has gone up in real terms. What is most important, however, is that no evidence shows an increase in NHS funding for mental health services, and at a time when the government have said that NHS spending is rising in real terms every year there is no evidence that mental health is receiving any additional funding.

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