Theresa May's two years as Prime Minister have coincided with a four percent real terms increase in mental health spending, fact-checking site 'Full Fact' have found.

The NHS in England planned to spend £11.9 billion on mental health in 2017/18. That was up from the £11.4 billion spent in 2015/16 — once inflation is accounted for — representing an increase of four percent.

Between 40 and 50 percent of mental health trusts in England saw reductions in their budgets each year between 2012/13 and 2015/16 under predecessor David Cameron.

Gradual turnaround

Mrs May pledged to make mental health a priority upon entering Downing Street in 2016.

A year later a narrow election victory led chancellor Philip Hammond to concede the Conservative party was "not deaf" to the result.

Calls from opposition parties and charities including the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the Mental Health Foundation and Young Minds to ring fence mental health spending were rejected ahead of the following budget last autumn.

However, new planning guidance issued by the NHS in February contained a requirement for Clinical Commissioning Groups (the authorities who purchase mental health services for the NHS) to comply with ring fencing from 2018/2019 onwards.

Wider investment

One million public sector workers were last month handed pay increases of between 1 and 3.5 percent, delivering a long-awaited end to austerity-era pay caps.

The government also delivered a "70th birthday present" in pledging to increase spending on the NHS in England as a whole by an extra £20 billion over the next five years.

Before ring-fencing, this would likely have meant around £2billion year going to mental health, based on Full Fact's analysis.

However with ring fencing now in place, mental health trusts in England can expect to receive several billion more than this, as a group, each year from 2019-2024.

The investment is much needed. Last year's spend of £11.9 billion enabled the NHS to treat just 40 percent of those in England living with mental health needs, according to a separate study by the Health Foundation and the Institute of Fiscal Studies.