Mental health cuts and their impact

Older people more vulnerable after mental health cuts

By Rachel O'Rourke

The elderly and ‘older adults’ are more vulnerable today after spending cuts to crucial mental health care services were revealed in a new Department of Health (DoH) report, says Charlotte Fantelli, editor of Mental Healthy.

The report published last week showed that spending on mental health services in England has dropped by £150m, despite the coalition government vowing to make mental health as important as physical health in an earlier manifesto.

While access to psychological therapies and mental health in children and adolecence had additional funding, working-age adults and older-adults were hit hard with investment dropping significantly in these areas. Investment in the working-age group was cut by 1% after inflation, to £6.63bn. While care for the elderly was hit even harder with a 3.1% decrease in spend, bringing investment in this group to £2.83bn.

“What we see is the very vulnerable ‘older adults’ being denied the mental health care they need,” said Fantelli. “We have often reported on the failings of mental healthy services for the elderly and this cut is likely to have a huge impact on the already poor care this group experiences.

“It is false economy to cut spending. Let us look at the cuts concerning working-age adults; investment for mental health for this group dropped by 1%. Whilst there is a small saving in the short-term, the knock-on economical cost of mental ill health is £77bn a year. Prevention is far less costly than the fall-out and the cure. When will our system reflect this?”

A Labour party spokesman told news reporters: "The government talk about the importance of metnal health has come to nothing. Ministers simply aren’t putting their money where there mouth is and vulnerable people will pay the price."

The falls in spending, argued the DoH, reflect the fact it is treating people before they get seriously ill ,with investment in psychological therapies increasing by 6%.

A DoH spokesperson told one national newspaper that it will continue to improve the commissioning of mental health services over the coming years. 

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