jcpmhNew guidance on commissioning services to promote wellbeing and reduce the £105 billion annual cost to the economy of mental health problems has been published by a panel of mental health experts.

With evidence suggesting that mental health problems increase during recession due to service cuts, the guidance from the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health makes the case that investing in effective treatment, prevention and promotion leads to significant economic savings even in the short-term.

The Joint Commissioning Panel is made up of organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) and the Royal College of General Practitioners. Guidance co-author Dr Jonathan Campion, from the RCPsych, said: “Local commissioners and Health and Wellbeing Boards now have an opportunity to assess the size and costs of gaps in local provision for treatment and prevention of mental health problems as well as the promotion of wellbeing.

“Unmet public mental health needs have a big impact and cost across education, employment and the criminal justice system. This guidance outlines a range of cost effective ways of treating and preventing mental health problems as well as enhancing wellbeing. These can improve health and wellbeing and lead to economic savings, even in the short-term.”

With only a minority of people who require help actually receiving it, the guidance explains how local communities can determine:
• How many people have mental health problems, including those from higher risk groups
• The risk factors for mental health problems – and protective factors for wellbeing
• The proportion of people who would benefit from services to treat and prevent mental health problems and promote wellbeing compared to those who actually receive them – and the cost of this unmet need
• The type of interventions which can best treat and prevent mental health problems as well promote wellbeing
• Likely outcomes from taking action, including economic savings.

The guidance highlights a range of cost-effective interventions, which have been shown to make a difference. For instance, the London School of Economics has estimated that promoting mental health at work results in net savings of £10 for each £1 spent even after one year. Early intervention for depression at work results in net savings of £5 for each £1 spent.