Depression the Leading Cause of ill Health and Disability
On average, just three per cent of government health budgets is invested in mental health, varying from less than one per cent in low-income countries to around five per cent in high-income countries including the UK.
Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to create parity of esteem between mental and physical health in the UK, but critics have suggested the motivation is purely economic, with an aim of “fixing” people and finding them fit for work as quickly as possible. But some mental health professionals and campaigners say the human cost of the condition is immeasurable and the focus should not be exclusively on the estimated cost to the economy and on getting people “back to work” because this is not always helpful and can lead to further problems.
According to mental health charities in the UK, mixed anxiety and depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem in the country, with 7.8 per cent of the population meeting the criteria for the condition, which is believed to account for one fifth of all days taken of work. There is a clear link between depression and suicide, which is the leading cause of death in men under 35. The number of unexpected patient deaths reported by mental health trusts in England has risen by 50 per cent in the last three years, according to figures obtained by the BBC under the freedom of information act.
Demand for mental health services has reached an unprecedented level, while funding for mental health services fell by 8 per cent between 2010 and 2015, according to statistics from 43 trusts. Theresa May delivered a much-publicised speech in January pledging to end the stigma around mental health, but did not promise significant extra funding to deal with the surge in demand for treatment.
Words by Rachel Roberts