March 20, 2015, by Public Social Policy
Is more money really the answer to mental health problems?
By Rupal Patel This week saw the announcement of investing £1.25bn in mental health services by Chancellor George Osborne. Many will be pleased with the announcement but I am somewhat sceptical. Is more money the answer to our growing epidemic nature of mental health problems? Or is this simply a political ploy prior to the election? The plan is to focus on children and ensure waiting-time is reduced whilst simultaneously employing extra specialists in talking therapies. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said:
“It’s an institutionalised form of cruelty the way we allow vulnerable children with mental health problems to…have to fend for themselves.”
Of course in many ways Clegg is right, but not only is it a form of institutionalised representation of cruelty; it is a societal and a social problem. Disappointingly, mental health and stigma still come bound together. We have an issue of social, cultural and institutional barriers to help-seeking which is at the heart of this complex issue. With the reconfiguration of the NHS in 2013, primary care trusts were replaced by clinical commissioning groups which are currently responsible for the planning and commissioning of healthcare services in their geographical locality. Therefore, they will allocate more funds to mental health if it is illustrated as a problem in the area. However, if people are not approaching services and this is not being recorded, it won’t be demonstrated as an issue and thus money will not be allocated in this area. Unfortunately, the problem will continue. Of course more money was and is required in mental health services and it is a welcomed proposition in the current situation. However, we should not be fooled that this will deal with the present mental health problems our society faces and there needs to be a definitive focus on removing barriers to help-seeking. I hope, now that mental health is increasingly being given the attention it deserves, we will move from strength to strength, coming closer to tackling some of the issues surrounding mental health: social, cultural, and institutional barriers to help-seeking to name a few.