Thank you for contacting me about mental health.
While it is hugely welcome that we are on the road to parity of esteem, there is still more to do. That said, I am extremely encouraged by the news that, as part of the five-year funding offer agreed in 2019, mental health services will receive budget growth of £2.3 billion the fastest uplift in funding. This will enable further service expansion and faster access to community and crisis mental health services for both adults and particularly children and young people. I also welcome the Government's commitment of around £2 billion to address waiting times for mental health services, giving more people the mental health support they need, investing in the NHS workforce and helping to ease existing pressures in the NHS caused by COVID-19.
In the 2021 Spending Review, I was encouraged to see a new investment of £150 million in NHS mental health facilities linked to A&E and to enhance patient safety in mental health units. Additionally, around £300 million will be spent to complete the programme of replacing mental health dormitories with single en suite rooms. The Spending Review also included welcome commitments to supporting ground-breaking innovative research to establish the UK as a life sciences superpower. This includes £95 million for the Office for Life Sciences, which I understand will support the launch of the Prime Minister’s healthcare mission on mental health. I look forward to learning more about this in due course.
I hope these new services help end the stigma surrounding mental health, offering crucial support to people suffering from crisis and those who have suffered in silence for too long.
Mental Health Research
Through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Government funds a range of research in mental health to inform national mental health policy. In 2020, £93.4 million was spent on mental health research, an increase from the previous year, and it is welcome that the Government is committed to having mental health research as a priority area.
Examples of research include a study jointly led with Kings College London and eating disorder charity Beat aiming to better understand what may lead to an eating disorder. In 2021, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced £24 million investment into adolescent mental health, including projects to better understand the relationship between social media and the mental health problems some young people face.
I was very encouraged to see the Government’s commitments to health-related research and development (R&D) in the 2021 Spending Review, including the largest ever cash uplift for health R&D. Funding will increase by £605 million, meaning the overall investment will rise to £2 billion by 2024/25. I look forward to learning more about projects that this funding will support.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP