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Mental health cuts are ‘putting lives at risk’

Six mental health organisations in England have warned that cuts to NHS funding are putting lives at risk, with young people especially affected. The Mental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network and the Centre for Mental Health and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have warned that planned cuts for next year will put lives at risk as the system is already underfunded.

It comes as figures reveal that early intervention schemes to help young mental health patients have been reduced over the past 12 months. Early intervention schemes are intended to reduce suicide rates, prevent patients from becoming more ill and to keep patients out of hospital and in work, and were praised last week by the Chief Medical Officer for England.

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said early intervention programmes were “very good value for money” and the prospect of budget cuts was “very worrying”. He added:

“Early intervention in psychosis services are known to be highly effective in helping young people to negotiate their first episode of psychosis. They offer hope of a brighter future by helping young people to stay in education, to get and keep work, and to support their physical health.”

Research by the London School of Economics suggests that 30,000 people with mental health problems have lost their social care support since 2005, following a £90m shortfall in funding. A separate report from the charity Mind also shows that mental health patients are losing social care support in greater numbers than elderly or physically-disabled people. It also found that one in three local authorities in England halved the number of people with mental health problems receiving social care support.

NHS England says it has put procedures in place to ensure that mental and physical health are treated equally in the future. In a statement NHS England say they have been “working solidly in its first year now to ensure that mental health no longer inhabits the silo that existed in the old system but is fully embedded in all the work we’re doing to deliver outcomes and high quality care”.

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