Budget cuts will always entail detrimental consequences for any industry they are placed on, but the effects of tightened finances have had particularly negative repercussions on mental health care services.
Due to huge reductions in allocated spending on mental health care institutions (an amount totalling £600million in just the last 5 years alone), an increasing number of people have now been left without adequate care facilities and are forced to wait long periods of time for them to become available again.
Over 15,000 beds have been reportedly lost following changes in national budgets, bringing the number down from 34,000 to just over 19,000. All the while, the number of people actually requiring support has increased dramatically with referrals to mental health trusts rising to 18.5%.
Because of this, people suffering from mental health illnesses including depression and bipolar disorder are either resorting to travelling much further to receive support or rely on help from community groups.
Findings released by mental health charity “Mind” suggest that, since 2010, an additional 500,000 people have started to rely on help from their community rather than seeking support from traditional organisations.
The effects of these cuts are a clear manifestation of the superiority of physical health in the eyes of today’s government. Mental health has always taken a backseat in terms of the government’s healthcare priorities and the situation is now becoming worse as time goes on.
Another distressing issue lies in the number of suicides amongst people in the UK.
This number has risen drastically over recent years and is now the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50 as well as being prevalent amongst individuals suffering from severe mental health conditions.
The Government’s Response
Despite the alarming statistics, there may be hope yet for mental health care trusts and other organisations as, in February, David Cameron declared there would be an additional £1billion added to the sector’s budget.
Furthermore, a five year plan has also been created by the NHS’s mental health department with the intention of tackling the most severe issues including the aforementioned escalating suicide rates.
This shows promise for the future of Britain’s wellbeing however, in order for the proposals to be successful; this money needs to be allocated both quickly and strategically in order to make a real difference to the lives of people who are in urgent need of support.
Encompass Dorset provide a wide range of services designed to improve the lives of people living with a mental health illness or learning disability.
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