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A new study has estimated the financial impact of poor mental health on the West Midlands region to be over £12 billion per year, including nearly £2 billion a year as a direct cost to the NHS – equivalent to more than £3000 for every person living in the area.

The study was commissioned by the West Midlands Mental Health Commission, a task force set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to assess the current costs of mental ill health and current service provision across the region. It was led by the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham in partnership with the Centre for Mental Health.

As well as the significant financial impact of poor mental health identified in the study, other key findings include:

  • Nearly one in four adults (23.8%) in the region are experiencing mental health problems at any given time.
  • There are strong links between mental health and socio-economic conditions (for example, women living in the poorest households are nearly three times as likely as men living in the most well-off households to be diagnosed with a common mental health problem, and people living in the poorest socio-economic circumstances are ten times more at risk of suicide than those in well-off households).
  • If the high costs of poor mental health are to be substantially reduced, the mental health of children and young people needs to be a priority, both for its immediate benefits and because intervention in the early years has been shown to reduce mental health problems in adulthood.
  • Organisations in the WMCA have been pioneers in developing innovative models of care, However, there is variation between CCGs and Local Authorities in terms of the range of provision and performance on national performance indicators. This means that some people will find it harder to access the support they need.

 These findings are now helping to inform the West Midlands Mental Health Commission’s Action Plan and the full report is available.

This plan outlines a series of actions that will be taken forward by a range of organisations and partners in the region, who will work together to drive better mental health and wellbeing.

Chair of the WM Mental Health Commission, the Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, says:

‘This study highlights both the moral and the powerful economic case for ending the neglect of mental ill health. The enormous cost to the region of mental ill health must be tackled. The public, private and voluntary sectors must come together to commit to change. I want this region to lead the way in driving better mental health and wellbeing within our diverse communities and making more effective use of public resources to improve people's lives.’

Lead researcher Dr Karen Newbigging from the University of Birmingham adds:

‘While our research has highlighted that individuals in the West Midlands have been pioneers in introducing better practice and support for people experiencing mental health problems, it also underlines the pressing need for different organisations to work together and in partnership with local people and communities, to not only design and deliver accessible and effective forms of support but to also tackle the root causes of poor mental health, the associated stigma and discrimination, and to actively promote mental wellbeing for all.’

For media enquiries or a copy of the report please contact Rebecca Hume, Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 9041.

For out of hours media enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

About the report:

‘Mental Health in the West Midlands Combined Authority: A report for the West Midlands Mental Health Commission’ by Dr Karen Newbigging, Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, and Michael Parsonage, Centre for Mental Health (January 2017)

About the WMCA Mental Health Commission:

The Commission is led by Norman Lamb MP, MP for North Norfolk and former Minister of State for Care and Support, whose Ministerial responsibilities included adult social care, integration and mental health.

It was set up after Local Authority Chief Executives from the West Midlands region identified that poor mental health and wellbeing is a significant driver of demand for public services and has a negative impact on the economy. The Commission was established to work out how the opportunities of devolution could help to address poor mental health and wellbeing across the region.

It aims to make recommendations to the WMCA and to Government in relation to:

  • ways to improve mental health and wellbeing services and improve outcomes, for people in our region and across the country
  • How public services should be transformed in the West Midlands, within current resources
  • How resources currently spent on supporting people with mental ill health can be re-directed to measures that keep people mentally well and enable recovery in people with poor mental health and wellbeing
  • The potential for devolved powers from government to the West Midlands for mental health and wellbeing

Both reports are being launched on January 31st 2017 at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

About the WMCA:

The West Midlands Combined Authority is based on the geography of the three Local Enterprise Partnerships which cover the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham and Solihull. The WMCA is being led by the seven metropolitan councils: Birmingham, Dudley Sandwell , Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

About the Health Services Management Centre:

The Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) at the University of Birmingham is one of the UK's foremost centres for research, evaluation, teaching and professional development for health and social care organisations.

About the Centre for Mental Health:

The Centre for Mental Health is an independent charity that changes lives through research to bring about fairer policies and better services.