Fair funding for mental health services

It will take time to turn around the years of chronic underfunding of mental health services. It is for that reason that we need greater ambition in how mental health services are funded so that people who are severely affected by mental illness are able to access the NHS help they need.

The NHS Long Term Plan is an important step forward and will lead redesigned community mental health services for people with severe mental illness with waiting time standards and increased annual physical health checks to reduce the mortality gap.

But even with this settlement there is still some way to go to achieve parity of esteem between physical and mental health.

That’s why we must continue to prioritise mental health funding so that people get timely and high-quality support close to home as soon as they first ask for help.

“My problems were not taken seriously and I ended up as an inpatient last year. This would have been completely avoidable had I been provided the appropriate community support. I thought that I was going to be dead before I got to the top of the waiting list.”


Rethink Mental Illness supported the think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) to calculate for the first time the cost of achieving parity of esteem.

By modelling how much it would cost to  have similar rates of access to mental health treatment as physical disease, the price tag for parity of esteem was calculated as an additional £4.1bn by 2023/24.

The NHS gave mental health services £2.3bn funding boost in its Long Term Plan – we are now asking parties to commit to the remaining  additional £1.7bn for NHS mental health services by 2023/24 to get more people the right treatment at the right time, with an ambition for mental health services to receive £23.9bn by 2030/31 to finally deliver parity of esteem.

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