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We Need To Talk About Mental Health And Suicide

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If you are worried about someone’s mental health or are having suicidal thoughts, you can contact the Samaritans on freephone 116 123 or your GP.  If you or someone you know is in an emergency situation, please call 999[CM1] .

Mental health has always been the poor cousin in terms of[1] NHS funding.  Although mental illness accounts for 28% of total disease, it gets just 13% of the NHS’s budget.  Furthermore, an investigation by The Times at the end of 2016 showed that more than half of NHS Trusts plan to reduce their funding in mental health to invest in other areas of healthcare[2].

A BBC Panorama Freedom of Information request found that in 2015-16 there were 3,160 unexplained deaths in 33 of the mental health trusts that provide most of Britain’s mental health care, up from 2,067 in 2012-13[3].

Exclusive new analysis for Panorama from think tank, The Health Foundation, indicates that mental health trusts in England have had their funding cut by £150 million over the past four years, compared with a rise in national spending on health of £8 billion[4].

Furthermore, a leaked report compiled by a government taskforce in early 2016 clearly demonstrated the mental health sector was in crisis.  Entitled, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, the paper revealed the number of people killing themselves is now increasing following years of decline, that three-quarters of those with psychiatric conditions are not being helped, and that sick children are being sent “almost anywhere in the country” for treatment[5].

25% of people will experience a mental health problem each year

According to Mind, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year and 17 out of 100 people will have suicidal thoughts at some stage in their life. In addition, 1 in 3  people will suffer from bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia over their lifetime, diseases which often result in self-harm or suicide if patients fail to receive adequate treatment[6].

In fact, 90% of suicides and suicide attempts have been found to be associated with a psychiatric disorder[7].

With these types of figures staring the government in the face, why is mental health still chronically underfunded and under-supported?

It is certainly not for lack of public concern.  Last summer, a cross-party inquiry by MPs into the funding of mental health services received more than 95,000 personal submissions, with one women stating she feared her husband, due to lack of support, would soon become a statistic, citing testimonies linking a lack of mental health support to suicide rates[8]

And it is not just mental health trusts that are falling short on budgets, mental health research in Britain is also chronically underfunded[9].

Whilst we may have come a long way from the Victorian practice of leaving those suffering from mental health issues languishing in Bedlam, mental illness has always been a domain in which successive governments have provided rhetoric but not much action.

Is that about to change?

What steps is the government taking to improve mental health and prevent suicide?

In January 2017, the Government released their third annual report on suicide prevention[10], setting out its strategies for  lowering the suicide rate in Britain.  The report is also being used to update the 2012 strategy in five main areas:

  • expanding the strategy to include self-harm prevention in its own right;
  • every local area to produce a multi-agency suicide prevention plan;
  • improving suicide bereavement support;
  • better targeting of suicide prevention and help in high-risk groups; and
  • improve data at both the national and local levels.

These updates are intended to help meet the recommendations of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, to reduce the number of suicides by 10 % by the year ending March 2021 and for every local area to have a multi-agency suicide prevention plan in place by the end of 2017.

With the amount the government has on its plate over the next few years, especially in relation to Brexit, the nation’s mental health may once again take a back seat. Sadly, this could lead to more sufferers not receiving the support they need in a timely manner and a further increase in unexplained deaths and suicides.

It remains to be seen whether or not policies and promises laid out in this year’s report are delivered upon.

Contact our compassionate legal experts today

At IBB, our personal injury team, led by experienced solicitor Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim or be represented at a Coroner’s Inquest following an unexplained death or suicide of a family member that may be linked to failures in the mental health sector. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at or fill in our contact form.  Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence and handled with the utmost sensitivity.





[4] Ibid







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