The Royal College of Psychiatrists today vowed to support the establishment of a charity to redress a lack of investment in mental health research.
The objective was announced as part of a manifesto, Fair Deal, to tackle the inequalities faced by people with mental health problems, on which the RCP will campaign over the next three years. It is also designed to influence the government’s replacement for the 1999 National Service Framework for mental health, which expires next year.
Calling for a charity to fund research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorder, it cited a 2004-5 review of the biggest health funders which found that mental health received 6.5% of total funding, compared to 25% for cancer.
It pointed to the impact of other disease-specific charities such as Cancer Research UK, which secures an annual research budget of £315m.
The college also said that services were underfunded. On current estimates, mental health receives 12% of NHS and social services budgets in England, 11% in Scotland, 9% in Northern Ireland and an estimated 12% in Wales.
A funding injection is vital to “reflect the human and economic costs of mental illnesses in society”, according to the report, based on a year-long consultation with psychiatrists, service users, and carers. For example, unemployment and other consequences of mental disorder cost the English economy an estimated £23bn each year, it said.
The RCP also called for action on the following issues:-
- Access to services for older people, prisoners, people with learning disabilities, those with substance misuse problems. and people from black and minority ethnic communities.
- Transition of young people into adult services.
- Involvement of service users and carers in service design and delivery.
- Availability of psychological therapies, particularly in hospitals.
- Discrimination and stigma.
Contribution to debate on NSF replacement
Kathryn Tyson, the Department of Health’s programme director of mental health, addressed the Fair Deal launch event in London.
Speaking in lieu of Ivan Lewis, the care services minister, who cancelled a scheduled appearance at short notice, she said: “We welcome this as a contribution to the debate we need to have as we come to the end of the national service framework.”
Norman Lamb MP, health spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, backed the proposals, adding that it was “very important that we raise the profile of mental health”.