Government urged to invest in preventing mental illness and improve NHS staff wellbeing ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review
“Mental health care needs to change if it is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century" Centre for Mental Health chief economist and report author Nick O’Shea
A new report commissioned by the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network has looked at the priorities for mental health services ahead of the autumn Comprehensive Spending Review (CRS).
The report, Now or never, says staff shortages “remain the biggest barrier to expanding services.”
It stresses the demand for mental health care is rising faster than the mental health care workforce and suggests one solution is to “invest in staff productivity: e.g. flexible working and use of digital technology.”
It argues that 1% of the cost of NHS staff sickness absence should be invested in supporting the wellbeing of its workforce.
Moreover, there needs to be a rethink of “long-held assumptions and ways of working” to respond to current and future challenges.
There must be a greater share of investment in preventing mental illness and to tackle long waiting lists.
Centre for Mental Health chief economist and report author Nick O’Shea said: “Mental health care needs to change if it is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
“Our Mental Health Act remains a direct descendant of nineteenth-century predecessors. We still see people being placed in long-stay hospitals and nursing homes far from home for mental health treatment. And the segregation of body and mind in health care still reduces the life expectancy of people with a mental illness by more than 15 years.
“Challenging times foster fresh thinking and new solutions. This is the time to act. We need to create a new system that’s designed to promote good mental health as well as treat mental and physical illness together and on an equal footing.
“We need to act now to improve life expectancy for people living with mental illness and to support the mental health of NHS staff. We cannot afford to leave the nation’s mental health to chance by carrying on exactly as we are for the next decade.”
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, said:
“This challenging report forces us to look differently at the current system and provides a framework for how we can continue to drive improvements in the mental health sector.”
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