In January the Prime Minister made a speech about mental health, his first. There were some welcome spending commitments. He set out Government thinking on promoting the life chances of children and young people.
So what are the plans for investment in mental health? There are two figures that matter, the first, announced in the March 2015 Budget, £1.25 billion building over 5 years to deliver the ambitions of Future in Mind. Second, the PM announced that by 2020 an extra £1 billion would be spent every year to deliver the recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force.
The trouble is tracking down where the money is and when it will arrive.
Last week the Chief Executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement were very candid with the Chairs and Chief Executives of NHS Mental Health providers. They made it clear there will be little or no new money in the next twelve months.
When the Chancellor gets to his feet on Wednesday to deliver his Budget Statement he should set out the steps the Government is taking to ensure this money gets to mental health. Transparency and accounting around the numbers would be a good start.
Even if the £2.25 billion – assuming that is the figure – is forthcoming, the scale of the task ahead is huge. Half of life long mental health problems have there first signs in adolescence, yet just one in four children who could benefit from treatment receives any.
There is a huge treatment gap and by the end of this Parliament it will still be huge. The Chancellor should acknowledge that and demonstrate that the PM’s January commitment to a Life Chances Strategy has the investment necessary to deliver the size and type of workforce needed to offer the prevention, early intervention and treatment required.