Sean DugganTens of thousands of young people with psychosis could lose out on vital support because of funding cuts, a new report has found.

‘Lost Generation’, by Rethink Mental Illness, has found that Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) services in England are struggling to survive in the face of major funding cuts of up to 20%.

EIP services are designed to help young people recover from a first episode of psychosis and reduce the risk of a young person taking their own life. They also save the NHS tens of millions of pounds each year, according to Rethink Mental Illness.

Rethink Mental Illness’ report found:

50% of EIP services say their budget has decreased in the past year, some by as much as 20%

58% of EIP services have lost staff over the past 12 months

53% say the quality of their service has decreased in the past year

Many young people face unacceptable delays in accessing EIP services, greatly reducing their chances of recovery.

Rethink Mental Illness is calling on the Government, NHS and commissioners to take urgent action to protect these services, and to ensure that young people with psychosis get the support they need.

More, not less

This call was echoed by Sean Duggan (pictured), chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health. “Cutting EIP services puts young people at risk of worse health and poorer life chances,” he warned. 

“Early Intervention in Psychosis services are known to be highly effective in helping young people to negotiate their first episode of psychosis. They offer hope of a brighter future by helping young people to stay in education, to get and keep work, and to support their physical health. They are very good value for money, saving the NHS £9 and the wider economy another £9 for every £1 invested in them. It is very worrying to hear that that half of EIP services have seen their budgets cut this year and that young people are facing delays in getting help when they need it.

“We know that health and social care commissioners are under financial pressures and they need to make savings. Cutting EIP, however, is a false economy that will create many more costs down the line. And ‘merging’ EIP teams with other community services will only work if the distinctive and evidence-based elements of early intervention in psychosis are protected.

“We cannot leave children and young people’s mental health to chance. Early intervention can improve health and life chances dramatically. It needs more, not less, investment. The NHS needs to get the most out of scarce resources and evidence-based early interventions, implemented faithfully, are crucial to ensure money is spent wisely.”