a balanced budget

Our vision is of a budget more fairly divided between biophysical and mental & emotional healthcare.

“My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.”

The NHS in England spends roughly seven times more on biophysical healthcare than on mental and emotional healthcare.

The primary reason for this imbalance is that biophysical health is seen as more important than the mental and emotional health. This is partly because biophysical health is more observable and more easily measurable, and partly because it’s considered more important for economic growth in terms of employment and the capacity to work.

But this huge spending mismatch isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense given that:

  • Mental health problems account for 28% of morbidity (i.e. illness), but spending on mental health services is only 13% of total NHS expenditure (source: Bridging the gap: The financial case for a reasonable rebalancing of health and care resources, published by The Centre for Mental Health in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists).
  • There is supposed to be ‘parity of esteem’ – the principle, enshrined in law by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, through which mental health must be given equal priority to physical health.
  • Mental illness is now nearly 50% of all ill-health suffered by people in Britain aged under 65, and accounts for 23% of the total burden of disease.[1]
  • Depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions cost the UK an estimated £77 billion a year in terms of lost workdays and healthcare costs. [2]
  • Many bio-physical illnesses are ‘lifestyle’ in origin and can thus best be prevented or alleviated through psychological means. [3]

And globally, the spending imbalance is even worse: less than 2% of health spending in most low and lower-middle income countries (WHO, Mental Health Atlas. 2011, World Health Organization: Geneva).

[1] “Cutting NHS costs with mental health investments” (Economic & Social Research Council, May 2013).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Including not just counselling, but also the psychology of personal health coaching and peer-group encouragement.

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