Rethink Mental Illness Investing in community-based care and support for people with schizophrenia and psychosis results in long-term savings, a new report has said.

The report, Investing in Recovery, by mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness and the London School of Economics (LSE), makes the business case for investing in a number of different types of care for people with schizophrenia and psychosis including peer support, family therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). 

For instance, it shows that investing in proven services such as Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP), can generate significant cost-savings for the NHS because it reduces the need for hospital beds. The analysis found that over a 10-year period £15 is saved for every £1 spent on EIP. 

The report also found that 54% of the current psychosis budget is being spent on inpatient care, rather than community services that help prevent people becoming seriously unwell in the first place. 

Other key points from the report include: 

Every £1 invested in peer support saves £4.76 due to a reduced need for expensive hospital care 

Over 2-5 years, early detection services, which help people get access to treatment as quickly as possible, save more than £50 million per year

Each person who receives family therapy saves the NHS more than £4,000 over a 3-year period

More than £14 million could be saved every year if crisis resolution and home treatment teams had the capacity to support 50% of people at risk of needing hospital admission for mental illness. In some areas, they are currently only in touch with about 5% of this group

The health and social care system saves £989 for every patient who receives CBT due to reduced hospital admissions.

Rethink Mental Illness is calling for more money to be invested in community services, which will reduce the need for expensive hospital beds. It costs an average of £13 a day to support someone in the community, compared to £350 a day in hospital.

Fairer share

Victoria Bleazard, associate director of campaigns and policy for Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Mental health is chronically underfunded. It accounts for 23% of the disease burden in England, but gets just 13% of the budget. On top of this, NHS spending has been essentially frozen in real terms until around 2020 and NHS England recently decided to disproportionately cut mental health, despite the Government’s commitment to equality between mental and physical health. 

“Not only do we want to see mental health getting a fairer share of the budget, but we also need to make sure that the money that is available is spent as efficiently as possible. In this climate, it makes no sense to cut mental health services which generate cost-savings and save lives. Short-term cuts only store up bigger costs for the future.

“The earlier we can detect and treat schizophrenia and psychosis, the better the chances are of recovery for the individual and the cheaper it is for the system in the long-term. We’ve seen this shift in other areas of medicine such as cancer treatment, where swift, early treatment is a priority. We need to see the same change in emphasis for people with schizophrenia and psychosis.” 

Professor Martin Knapp, report author and director of the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the LSE said: “Much needs to be done to improve the lives of people with schizophrenia and psychosis. At the same time – as our report shows – there is also much that can be done to improve NHS efficiency, and even for some interventions to generate savings.”