Investing in care for mental health
Council assessing where money needed
HILLINGDON Council spent nearly five per cent of its public health budget on mental health services last year – more than three times the national average – according to new figures.
The local authority spent £709,000 on public mental health services in 2013/14, amounting to 4.6 per cent of its total budget for public health spending, which was £15,281,000.
The figures were obtained by the mental health charity Mind, under the Freedom of Information Act.
The charity requested the same figures from every local authority in England and found that, on average, only 1.36 per cent of public health budgets were spent on mental health in 2013/14.
The charity says mental health problems account for 23 per cent of the total cost of dealing with illness in the UK, and has criticised councils for spending significantly less money tackling these issues than is spent on addressing physical problems, such as obesity and smoking.
The primary care trust (PCT), which made decisions about how money should be spent on health services until it was abolished last year, had allocated only £40,000 for Hillingdon Council’s mental health services in 2013/14.
Having taken over responsibility for preventing physical and mental health problems from the PCT in April 2013, the borough council decided to spend nearly 18 times that amount.
Jean Palmer, the council’s deputy chief executive and corporate director of residents’ services, said: “The council is putting our residents first by investing in mental health services that meet the needs of our community.
“As part of this we are currently undertaking a mental health needs assessment to help us better understand the level of prevention and early intervention services required and how these can be best delivered.
“Our original prevention budget for mental health was set by the Primary Care Trust. Since public health transitioned to the council in April 2013, we have increased this investment to ensure our residents receive the care and support that they need.”
The money is used for services such as social clubs and day activities for people with mental health needs.