Mental health spending 'unacceptably low', charity says

Councils spend less than 1.4% of their total budget on mental health care, leading to calls for a new 'national strategy'

Mental health
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Local council spending on mental health services is "unacceptably low", a damning report by the charity Mind has revealed.

It found that councils were spending an average of 1.36 per cent of their public health budget on mental health services. Some local authorities were even unaware that they were responsible for spending on mental health, The Guardian reports.

"We are beginning to see the scale of the unmet need for mental health services in England," said Mind's chief executive Paul Farmer. The charity criticised local authorities for failing to achieve parity of esteem between mental and physical health.

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Councils have allocated just £40m for mental health services in the next year, compared to £671m on sexual health initiatives, £160m on anti-smoking and £108m to curb obesity.

"Mind's findings show that while local authorities are happy to spend on preventing physical health problems, their equivalent spending on mental health is unacceptably low," said Farmer.

Gregory Henderson from Public Health England said he welcomed the report and fully supported more investment in mental health care by local government. "The old adage 'prevention is better than cure' is also very much true for mental health and more needs to be done to help individuals, families and communities maintain and gain good mental health," he said.

But the Local Government Association believes the report has failed to acknowledge the positive steps that councils have taken, says the BBC. "There are many things that councils do that impact positively on mental health but might now come with a mental health 'badge'," said Councillor Izzi Seccombe.

Mind is now calling on the next government to develop a "national strategy" to ensure more is spent on mental health service, saying local authorities need "much clearer" guidance and support on how best to tackle and prevent mental health problems.

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