Time to Change, an organisation run by the leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is currently running an anti-stigma campaign called Time to Talk which aims to challenge attitudes and change behaviour around mental illness. For more information on the campaign please click here.
Mental health problems affect one in four people every year but does the NHS have the services in place to treat this ever growing condition? While mental illness accounts for 23% of the total impact of ill health in this country, it only receives 13% of the NHS budget. Only 6% of this is for child and adolescent mental health, despite the fact half of all adult mental health problems start before the age of 15 and three quarters by age 18. The minister of state for care and support, Norman Lamb, states that children's mental health services "are not fit for purpose".
The BBC reports that more than 400 adults with acute mental health problems are being forced to seek treatment at hospitals more than 30 miles from their homes. In November 2014, a 16-year-old patient had to be held in a police cell after she was sectioned because no bed was available for her.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), which was rated ‘inadequate” and "not a safe, effective or responsive service" by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), faces a £14m shortfall in its mental health services funding in 2015-16.
The Guardian reports that the number of people with a mental health condition admitted to hospital as an emergency is likely to reach its highest level ever this winter and that charities have warned that people with mental health conditions are using A&E to get treatment because they are “being let down by the rest of the system”. An estimated 280,000 mental health patients were admitted to hospital as an emergency in the last three months of 2014 with emergency doctors warning that overstretched A&E departments are the wrong place for people in mental distress.
Healthwatch England warned that the safety of vulnerable people is being put at risk because they are discharged from hospital without proper information about their condition and future needs. It found that people who had previously engaged in self-harming and suicidal behaviour and had usually been admitted to hospital were only being offered a crisis support phone number on leaving.
Following the death of a pensioner in Cornwall who had been deemed high risk of taking his own life, a coroner has written to the Government over the lack of hospital beds for mental health patients.
Rebecca Morgan, an associate in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team, commented: “The lack of available funding in mental health services is potentially harmful to people with mental health conditions. We act for many clients who have suffered significant psychological injury as well as physical injuries as a result of negligent treatment. We know how vital it is for these clients to receive appropriate, targeted and specialist psychological therapy. We wholeheartedly support the Time to Talk campaign to create wider awareness of mental health among the general public and hope that this will pave the way for more government funds being invested into mental health services.”