Thank you for contacting me about mental health policy and funding.
I am sure that the Chancellor has taken on board the seriousness of the points made to him about mental health funding; of course, the details of the Budget will be revealed shortly and will necessarily reflect the need to balance many urgent priorities.
The Government is clear that tackling poor mental health must be one of those priorities and should be treated with the same importance as physical health: the Government enshrined parity of esteem for physical and mental health in law in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Spending on mental health increased to a planned £11.86 billion in 2017/18.
In February 2016, an independent Mental Health Taskforce published a new national strategy, setting out an ambitious vision for mental health services. To make these recommendations a reality, the Government will spend an additional £1 billion on mental health by 2020-21 so that people receive the right care in the right place when they need it most. This includes increasing the number of people completing talking therapies by 600,000 per year, and helping 20,000 more people to find or stay in work through individual placement support and talking therapies. To help meet these ambitions, the Government is increasing the number of Mental Health professionals in the NHS by 21,000.
The Government is also making £1.4 billion available in order to transform services for children and young people and enable an additional 70,000 children and young people a year to receive access to specialist mental health service by 2020/21.
Performance against Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) waiting time standards consistently exceeds the national targets. According to data from April 2018, 98.9 per cent of those people completing treatment waited less than 18 weeks for their treatment to start in England against a target of 95 per cent, and 89.4 per cent of people completing treatment waited less than six weeks against a target of 75 per cent. Patients experiencing psychosis for the first time should also be treated within two weeks: 76.7 per cent of patients their first episode of psychosis started treatment within two weeks in February 2018, against a standard of 60 per cent by 2020/21.
The Government announced reform to mental health policy in last year’s Queen’s Speech, in order to continue to reduce the number of people detained in police cells under the Mental Health Act. A comprehensive review of the Mental Health Act, which has remained unchanged for more than three decades, will examine existing practices, and address the disproportionately high rates of detention of people from ethnic minorities. The review will be led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and he will consider the needs of all users of mental health services and their families, and improve the system’s support for those during a mental health crisis.
I understand that the Government is working to ensure that mental health spending is spread throughout the whole country. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are required to achieve the Mental Health Investment Standard, to demonstrate that they have increased their mental health spending in line with the growth in their overall budgets. I am happy to note that in 2016/17, 85 per cent of CCGs achieved this standard, and NHS England continues to work with CCGs to improve this figure.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP