On the 25th of November George Osborne laid out his plans for the economic functioning of Britain over the next 4 years in the Spending Review and autumn statement. Within this Osborne claimed that ‘an extra £600m will be earmarked for mental health services’ in line with the Conservative manifesto. Yet what does this really mean?
Increased investment does not always guarantee that people’s needs are going to be met. The increase in funding contradicts the austerity agenda endorsed by the Conservative government, an agenda that has already damaged the same services they are meant to be investing in. Children and adolescent mental health service budgets have been frozen in 60% of local authorities since 2010, funding for health and social service support has been reduced within the public and third sector. This does not add up. One explanation is that the Conservatives are following a top-down approach, the same approach they criticised New Labour for, whereby managers and executives are getting a large majority of the investment.
Acknowledgement of the appropriateness of these services is also neglected by Osborne. Investing money into services is all well and good, but if they do not meet the needs of individuals they are useless. Britain has a high proportion of people who need help but are not accessing mental health services; for various personal and socio-cultural reasons, these include, but do not end at; stigmatism, the attributes of the specific condition, finances and geography. The ‘invisible suffers’ within our society, the people who are going undiagnosed and unsupported, are the ones we need to reach out to the most. We are living in the information age, yet technology is still not being utilised appropriately to provide mental health support for individuals, despite how effective these mechanisms are in breaking down the numerous barriers.
To put this £600m in perspective more than 16 million people in Britain suffer from a mental health condition, this is projected to escalate over the next 4 years. These cuts are arguably not going to meet the needs of the ever increasing population, particularly the elderly who often need access to age related mental health services. Based on current demographics this £600m will equate to an increase of £37.50 per person, not a lot when taking into account the huge strides that need to be taken by the current government.
Taking into consideration that 1 MP is being paid £67,060 per annum, excluding expenses, with this set to rise to £74,000. With 650 members of parliament forty three million, five hundred and eighty nine thousand pounds, minus expenses is lining MPs pockets. It seems unjustifiable that the 16 million people, who on average have a mental health condition in Britain are being provided with just £150m per annum, or £600m over the next 4 years. These people have been elected to protect our rights and democracy, but instead they are damaging people’s lives for their own self-interest.