hospitalAccess to healthcare, social services and employment opportunities for people in the UK with severe mental illness is falling short when compared to some other European countries, according to new research from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The findings of the Mental Health Integration Index benchmarks the UK against 30 European countries based on their commitment to integrating people with severe mental illness into society. 

While in four key categories the UK is placed second overall in the Index, it falls to 8th in the access to healthcare and social services category and 9th in the employment opportunities category.

Commenting on the results, Professor Martin Knapp, director of the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics, said: “This research highlights that finding gainful employment is a significant challenge for people suffering with severe mental ill health.

“This is likely to be further exacerbated by the limited access to healthcare and social services, which means that despite positive efforts to integrate people with severe mental illness into society, more needs to be done to realise this.”

The UK section of the report canvassed the views of a range of independent stakeholders including think-tank the King’s Fund and mental health charity Mind. It identified an “ongoing, substantial treatment gap in mental healthcare” and “cost-driven, rather than policy-related cuts” in mental health trust budgets, which “have not been channelled into greater spending on community-based services”.

Additional research undertaken by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that only 65% of people with psychotic disorders receive any treatment. This figure was around one quarter for those with less severe mental health conditions, compared to the more than 90% of people with high blood pressure and diabetes who receive treatment for their condition.

By contrast the UK scored highest in the provision of a stable family environment and governance, including human rights issues and efforts to combat stigma.

These findings will be shared with key stakeholders including representatives from clinical commissioning groups, health and wellbeing boards, mental health trusts, academic health science networks and patient advocacy groups.

Download the Index in full here