Responding to the External Environment of Mental Health Services in the UK I. Introduction Governments worldwide are being called upon to tighten spending for public services. The call comes as a direct result of government budget deficits and the perceived correlation between government budget deficits and vulnerability of societies with large budget deficits and crises…
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Mental health is “a state of well being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (World Health Organization 2004, citing its earlier work in 2001). Despite the importance of mental health and a claim by Chantrill (2013) that the UK health budget has increased, Healthcare Today (2012) reported that UK government spending for mental health dropped by 1% in 2011-2012. According to Healthcare Today (2012, 2nd paragraph), “expenditure on mental health for the elderly was particularly affected, decreasing by 3.1% to ?2.83 billion.” II. External Policy Environment and Mental Health in the UK Given an external policy environment of austerity and yet providing the mental health services at high quality, several policy thrusts have been articulated. One of the policy thrust is indicated in the document, Working our way to better mental health: A framework for action, produced in 2007. The document recognizes that “poor mental health is very common” in the United Kingdom (Burnham & Cooper 2007, p. 7). In the estimate of the Secretaries of the Department for Work Pensions and the Department of Health, “at any one time, one in three of our working-age population may be experiencing some kind of distress or mental health condition such as depression” (Burnham & Cooper 2007, p. 8). This is significantly large and is basically saying that mental health problems are highly prevalent in the working age population. Worst, the document pointed out that “mental ill-health is now the most common reason for claiming health-related benefits and 86 percent remain on the benefits for more than three months” (Burnham & Cooper 2007, p. 8). Burnham & Cooper (2007) that evidence show that the longer people are out of work because of mental ill-health, the less likely they have a chance of returning back to work. This indicates that policy must be designed to allow people with ill mental health to return to work as soon as possible, provided that support mechanisms are in created such that therapy continues while a person is at work. Related to this, the National Mental Health Development Unit (2009a) emphasized that work is good for people with mental problems. It also pointed out that “people with mental health conditions can and do work, with many thousands of people with mental health conditions working in a broad range of roles” (National Mental Health Development Unit 2009a, p. 4). Thus, the key message of the National Mental Health Development Unit (2009a) material is that “work is good for mental health and is central to recovery for people with mental health conditions” (p. 4). Meanwhile, McDaid (2008) pointed out that although death rate from suicide in the United Kingdom went down by at least 20% in 2010, the problem is still bad because “1 in 10 children and young people aged 5-16 had a clinically recognizable mental disorder” (p. 1). Further, 14% of the population of the United Kingdom “have or had chronic anxiety or depression, and 12% say that they are undergoing medical treatment for this reason.”
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