Insufficient funding and structural barriers mean UK severe mental health policy is not always put into practice, report finds
Access to healthcare, social services and employment opportunities for people with severe mental illness in the UK is falling short when compared to some other European countries, according to new research from the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned and funded by Janssen.
The UK findings1 of the Mental Health Integration Index, released 12 January, benchmarks the UK against 30 European countries based on their commitment to integrating people with severe mental illness into society.
In four key categories the UK is placed second overall in the Index.2 But while the UK finished first in the provision of a stable family environment1 and governance, including human rights issues and efforts to combat stigma,1 it came eighth in the access to healthcare and social services category1 and ninth in the employment opportunities category.1
“This research highlights that finding gainful employment is a significant challenge for people suffering with severe mental ill health,” commented Professor Martin Knapp, Director of the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics. “This is likely to be further exacerbated by the limited access to healthcare and social services, which means that despite positive efforts to integrate people with severe mental illness into society, more needs to be done to realise this.”
The UK report, which canvasses the views of a range of independent stakeholders including the King’s Fund and the mental health charity Mind, identifies an “ongoing, substantial treatment gap in mental healthcare” and “cost-driven, rather than policy-related cuts” in Mental Health Trust budgets, which “have not been channelled into greater spending on community-based services”.
Further demonstrating the limited access to healthcare and social services, research undertaken by the Royal College of Psychiatrists also reports that only 65% of people with psychotic disorders receive any treatment.3 This figure was around one quarter for those with less severe mental health conditions, which included anxiety disorders and depression.3 In contrast, over 90% of people with high blood pressure and diabetes receive treatment for their condition.3
The UK findings will be shared with key stakeholders, including representatives from Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health and Wellbeing Boards, Mental Health Trusts, Academic Health Science Networks and patient advocacy groups.
“We are proud to have commissioned the Mental Health Integration Index, which aims to encourage informed discussion, closer collaboration and action to accelerate positive outcomes for people living with severe mental illness” said Dr Kayur Patel, Neuroscience Medical Lead, for Janssen in the UK. “This is important because integration is a key element in the recovery of people with mental illness.”
1 Economist Intelligence Unit, Mental Health and integration UK Country Report: The journey towards parity of esteem. Available from: http://www.janssen-emea.com/sites/default/files/UK%20Mental%20Health%20Integration%20Report%202014%20Final.pdf. Last accessed January 2015.
2 Economist Intelligence Unit, Mental Health and Integration. Provision for supporting people with mental illness: A comparison of 30 European countries. Available from: http://www.mentalhealthintegration.co.uk/media/whitepaper/EIU-Janssen_Mental_Health.pdf. Last accessed January 2015.
3 Royal College of Psychiatrists. Whole-person care: from rhetoric to reality achieving parity between mental and physical health. Occasional paper OP88. March 2013. Available from: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/files/pdfversion/OP88xx.pdf. Last accessed January 2015.