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Mental Health Services

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the economic downturn on the demand for mental health services. (253076)

The Department has not commissioned research on the impact of the economic downturn on levels of demand for mental health services. However, we recognise that there are links between poor mental health and difficult economic circumstances and, in the current climate it is understandable that people might worry more about their finances and employment. Mental health services in England are now better prepared than ever before to provide help for these people.

Since 2001-02, real terms investment in adult mental health services increased by 44 per cent. (or £1.7 billion) putting in place the services and staff needed to transform mental health services. The NHS spent £5.53 billion on these services in 2007-08 (£3.844 billion in 2001-02).

We now have 64 per cent. more consultant psychiatrists, 71 per cent. more clinical psychologists and 21 per cent. more mental health nurses than we had in 1997, providing better care and support for people with mental health problems. (Full-time equivalent).

Because of the National Service Framework and increased funding, we now have over 740 new community mental health teams offering home treatment, early intervention, or intensive support for people who might otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

Further, we are investing significantly in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme with annual funding rising to £173 million in the third year (2010-11), to train 3,600 extra therapists and treat 900,000 more people in those three years.

This programme is relieving distress and transforming lives by offering effective intervention and treatment choice to people with depression and anxiety disorders and improving the collection, recording and measuring of patients' health outcomes.

35 new services were launched last month, with more than 800 therapy workers now offering this support to people who need it.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to improve the care of people with mental health problems regarding service redesign and strengthening local partnerships across traditional organisational boundaries in (a) England and (b) the Sefton Primary Care Trust. (253414)

Specialist care is now often provided in the community, through multi-disciplinary community mental health teams, which give general long-term care, and three specialist teams, each the subject of national targets over the last five years:

crisis resolution/home treatment teams provide intensive support for people in mental health crisis in their own home, reducing the need to be admitted to hospital;

assertive outreach teams engage with people with severe and persistent mental illness with complex needs who have difficulty engaging with services and often require repeat admissions to hospitals; and

early intervention teams provide services to those experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

Further, the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme is rolling out across England, training a new workforce of therapists to help the national health service implement the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for the treatment of common mental health conditions of depression and anxiety disorders. 35 primary care trusts (PCTs) are launching their IAPT services in this first year and have recruited more than 800 trainees. There is £33 million funding available in this first year. More PCTs will follow in each of the next two years as a further £140 million in funding is released and we expect Sefton PCT to be developing an IAPT service in the second year.

IAPT services build strong ties with local employment services, helping people stay in or return to work if mental health problems have put their job at risk or prevented them getting one while they have been unwell.

The North West strategic health authority (SHA) reports that Sefton PCT proposes to spend around £31 million on mental health services in 2008-09. A similar amount was spent in 2007-08.

The PCT has been awarded Improved Access to Psychological Therapy development site status from 1 April 2009, which should bring with it additional resource to develop services for people with common mental health problems.

The SHA also reports that services commissioned from Mersey Care Trust are achieving key performance indicators for crisis resolution/home treatment, early intervention in psychosis and assertive outreach services.

Jointly with the local authority, the PCT has commissioned the required number of black and ethnic minority community development workers who are located within the Sefton Equalities Partnership.