The chronic under-funding of mental health services has been revealed this week. An investigation by the Public Accounts Committee shows that the funding simply isn't in place to meet the Government's purported ambition for mental health to achieve 'parity of esteem' with physical health.
This trend has certainly been evident in recent research interviews I've been conducting with people about their mental health needs to inform Renaisi's employment service delivery. These have highlighted not only gaps in mental health provision but also that cuts to other vital community services are also reducing the support available to those most in need, with implications for their mental health.
It seems there is a need for joined up approaches which recognise the connections between mental health and our wider communities. We need to look at the social conditions which give rise to poor mental health (including the connections between inequality and poor mental health, and the impact of wider public spending cuts) if attempts to address the mental health crisis are to be meaningful and preventative.
Alongside funding to mental health and community services, this may include looking at how services are accessed and delivered, forging stronger links between clinical support and social support (for example, the IPS model, which provides an integrated mental health and employment support programme, has been proven to be highly effective).
It may also involve investment in community programmes (such as those developed by Midland's based Forward For Life), designed to give people the information to understand their mental health better, and the tools and social networks to manage and improve their mental health.
The report says only a quarter of people who need mental health services currently have access to them, despite one-in-four adults being diagnosed with a mental health illness at some point in their lives.