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Mental Health: Economic Situation

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will (a) estimate the number of NHS counsellors and (b) assess the likely demand for NHS casualty services required to deal with increases in the incidence in mental health problems arising as a result of the economic downturn. (297385)

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. Mental health services in England are now better prepared than ever before to provide help for these people.

Since 2001-02, total planned investment in adult mental health services has increased by 50 per cent. (or £2.0 billion), putting in place the services and staff needed to transform mental health services. Total planned investment increased from £5.530 billion in 2007-08 to £5.892 billion in 2008-09, a 6.6 per cent. increase in the amount, and 4.0 per cent. in real terms.

We also 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.

We are also 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.

The talking therapy services that are already up and running under the IAPT programme have been very successful, with 73,000 people entering treatment and 1,500 more therapists being employed under the scheme.

In March 2009, a £13 million package of measures was announced to tackle the effects of the economic downturn. Employment is key to good mental health and the £13 million will strengthen the health service's links with employment services at local level, speed up the introduction of IAPT services in the areas most affected by the recession and provide better public access to information online at NHS Choices. The NHS Credit Crunch Stressline has also been established and is taking calls from people whose health is being affected by money worries.