5 Reasons to Take Notice on World Mental Health Day

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1. The NHS budget for mental health is 11%, despite a 23% prevalence rate

Mental health remains the poor cousin compared to spend on physical health problems. Funding on children’s mental health services is even lower – just 6% of this 11%. In simple terms, this equates to under 1% of the total NHS budget, despite the fact that one in every ten children have a diagnosable mental health condition.

Whilst the government has promised £1.28bn additional funding in children’s services by 2020-21, many trusts in England have actually seen their budgets cut during 2015-16.

2. 75% of long-term mental health problems start by the age of 18

Even more concerning, 50% of such problems start by the age of 14. This is a strong incentive for early intervention – from tackling stigma in the classroom to a wider whole-school and society approach to mental health. There is no doubt that common mental health disorders will decrease if we provide children and young people with the tools required to manage adversity going into adulthood.

3. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50

With 6,000 suicides in the UK per year (men 75%, women 25%), death by suicide far outnumbers other causes of death such as road traffic accidents and heart attacks.

4. The number of under-18s admitted into hospital for self-harm has risen drastically over the past 10 years

From 2005-06 to 2016, there was a 42% rise of girls needing hospital treatment after ingesting a poisonous substance. Moreover, the increase in the number of girls being admitted as inpatients rose by 285% during that same period of time.  

5. The UK’s economic cost of mental ill health is £105bn.

The cost of poor mental health goes beyond the patient and those around them. It is also associated with huge costs to the wider society. Earlier this year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that mental ill-health costs the UK 4.5% of GDP due to lost working days, reduced productivity and higher spend of benefits.

Mental health has frequented the media and political agenda over the past few years. Whilst there have been some positive steps taken to raise awareness and tackle stigma, we need to continue to apply the pressure on politicians. We need to ensure that vote-winning rhetoric isn’t not simply that – rhetoric. Money needs to filter down to frontline services and we need to introduce a whole-school approach to children’s wellbeing from primary age. With this in mind, we have the opportunity to provide a new culture of openness in talking about how we are feeling. We have the opportunity to reduce the devastating effects of mental illness for generations to come.

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