Rethink Mental Illness comments on Autumn Statement
17 November 2022
Jeremy Bernhaut, Head of Policy and Influencing, Rethink Mental Illness said:
“The nation’s mental health has been hit by the double blow of a global pandemic and a cost of living crisis, and more people than ever are turning to a system that often struggles to deliver the support they need. The Chancellor’s announcement of increased funding for the NHS and investment in social care, backed with a much-needed plan to strengthen a burned out, under-resourced workforce, provides some initial reassurance the situation will improve. But mental health services cannot recover from decades of historic underfunding without thorough reform of our social care system, and while the investment announced today is desperately needed it does not represent the long-term, sustainable settlement from the Treasury that the social care sector needs. We need to see the detail now on what meaningful difference health and social care funding will make to the lives of people severely affected by mental illness.
“The government has responded to calls for benefits to be uprated in line with inflation. While this will go some way in easing people’s anxieties about how they will make ends meet in the near future, the cost of living crisis will still place many people’s mental health under unbearable pressure. Our benefits system should be a safety net for all of us in times of hardship, but heaping more pressure on part-time workers to increase their earnings has the potential to cause great stress, particularly to people severely affected by mental illness or those with caring responsibilities. We will continue to campaign for a more compassionate benefits system that works in tandem with health and social care to provide people with the right support when they need it.
“Even in the wake of the pandemic, there is evidence of progress, including the current transformation of community mental health services. But our own research has found that more than one quarter of UK adults report their mental health is now worse compared to the start of the year, and the cost of living crisis has thwarted the expected rebound from Covid-19. The case remains that many people severely affected by mental illness do not consistently receive the high-quality, timely support they need, placing their lives on hold or cutting them short. The government can’t simply fight fires – we need a bold 10-year plan which reassures us that NHS and social care services are resourced to turn the tide and meet soaring demand, puts a plan in place to tackle the drivers of mental ill-health, and sets out how those living with mental illness will be supported to live well in the community.”