Wellbeing: rethinking mental health policy
Among all groups in our society, the prevalence of mental health issues appears to be increasing. In the past two decades, there has been a considerable growth in the number of individuals reporting common mental health disorders in the UK and abroad. In addition, more and more people are receiving treatment for their conditions, particularly in terms of medication and GP visits.
For too long mental health and emotional wellbeing have been viewed as the responsibility of the NHS. However, there is considerable evidence both that the determinants of mental health are far broader than those of physical health, and that the costs of poor mental health are also felt broadly across society.
Our report Rethinking Mental Health Policy collates much of this evidence and combines it with original analysis to outline why we believe a coordinated response from across government and beyond is required to improve the nation’s mental health and wellbeing and tackle the costs of poor mental health. Some of our key findings include:
- 27% of adults have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, but survey data suggests that the true prevalence of mental health conditions could be 43%
- The budgetary impact on the physical healthcare service of mental health conditions is almost as high as the mental health budget (£11.2bn vs £13.6bn)
- But these figures are dwarfed by lost productivity of £27.2bn, which translates into £11.7bn of lost taxes and £6.3bn of benefits payments
Our view is that the responsibility of caring for our mental health does not sit solely on the shoulders of healthcare providers and cannot be addressed exclusively by policies at the Department for Health and Social Care. Instead, as a public resource to us all, the mental health needs of our population should be considered across all aspects of government policy and decision-making. To enable an appropriate response to mental health problems, one which considers the full spectrum of impacts to our society, we propose that the UK Government should adopt a broader stance towards mental health in all areas of policymaking.
Economic Advisory team
EY Government & Public Sector