children counsellingThe resourcing of mental health care must increase if the NHS is to improve the nation’s health while meeting its productivity challenge, according to a new report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) and Centre for Mental Health.

'Bridging the Gap: the financial case for a reasonable rebalancing of health and care resources' examines how under-investment in mental health services and a lack of integration with physical health services have created a bottleneck in healthcare improvement, constrained physical health outcomes and has impaired broader economic performance.

The authors estimate that the cost of untreated mental ill health among people with physical illness is nearly £13 billion.

Professor Sue Bailey, president of RCPsych, said: “For too long, mental health services have suffered from under-investment and the mental health needs of people with long-term physical health conditions have often been neglected.

"Nobody should be denied the mental or physical health care they need, and this is increasingly urgent as people live longer. Unless we take immediate action the treatment and resource gap will become even wider. We set out three areas, including dementia, where a refocusing of health spend on people’s mental health needs would both greatly improve their lives and help to ease pressure on other parts of the NHS."

The report finds that a rebalancing of health and care resources is needed to ensure no one is denied the mental or physical health care they need.

It goes on to suggest ways in which the Department of Health could help 'bridge the gap' between physical and mental health including:
• Every hospital should have a comprehensive liaison psychiatry service
• Improved professional awareness of dementia including earlier diagnosis, greater use of behavioural interventions and better hospital and community care
• Further training and support for GPs, nurses and other NHS staff to help them understand and look after their patients’ mental health.

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said: “The NHS is facing growing pressure on its resources. Local authorities have even bigger budget pressures. Rebalancing health spending to support the mental health of people with long-term conditions and those with dementia is no longer an optional extra, it is a change the whole of the NHS must make.”

The full report is available at: