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Mental Health Taskforce to Tackle £100 Billion Problem


In November 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that he will establish and chair a new Mental Health Taskforce, following news of a £120 million investment commitment in mental health the month before.

Nick Clegg said: “Mental health affects every aspect of our lives. One in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem and it costs the country more than £100 billion. This is too big an issue for the NHS to deal with alone. The whole of government needs to combine its efforts and pool its resources to help the millions of people whose mental health condition is preventing them from getting on in life.

Mental health statistics released at the time of the Taskforce announcement reinforce the severity of this care and support challenge:

• 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year

• 3 children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition

• Only a quarter of people with a common mental health problem get treatment, mostly in the form of medication

• 90% of prisoners have at least one mental health disorder, including personality disorder, psychosis, neurosis, alcohol misuse and drug dependence

• 2.3 million people with a mental health condition are out of work and mental health conditions are the primary reason for claiming health related benefits

• Mental illness costs the country as much as £100 billion each year through lost working days, benefits and treating preventable illness

• The most common mental health problem is depression which is experienced by 8 to 12% of the population

The Taskforce will examine improving services for young people as well as the crisis of the alarming numbers of people with severe mental health problems ending up in police cells and prisons. Too many people in the middle of a mental health crisis end up locked in police cells after being turned away from hospitals, because of full wards, staff shortages or because they are too young or too drunk, according to the Care Quality Commission.

Police cells are inappropriate and make people feel "punished for being unwell", according to the charity ‘Mind ‘. It is estimated that between 2012 and 2013, in total 21,814 people were detained by the police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

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