Association of Mental Health Providers warns of ‘the perfect storm’ as research reveals a 50 per cent rise in people presenting with increasing needs
9 March 2023: After more than 10 years of austerity, and the cumulative impact of pandemic and cost of living pressures, the Association of Mental Health Providers, the national voice for mental health charities providing services in England and Wales, is warning of a ‘perfect storm’ as research reveals alarming insights into the demand on mental health services.
Over 8 million people are supported by mental health charities – that is 1 in 8 of our population – and a survey of the Association’s 300 plus members has revealed:
- a 100 per cent increase in waiting times for access to specialist referral and crisis services since summer 2022.
- a 50 per cent rise in people presenting with increasing needs, particularly with anxieties related to money and housing because of the cost-of-living crisis.
Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of The Association, says:
“I’ve worked in this sector for over 40 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it. There is an increase in prevalence of mental illness in society, an increase in the intensity of need, and an increase in demand for services. The whole system is cracking but the vital services delivered by mental health charities are being overlooked.
“Our members deliver a wide range of over 3000 mental health services locally, regionally, and nationally. This means there is a mental health charity supporting our NHS in delivering mental health services in every local area of this country.
“The demand for services is outstripping the allocation of funding and resources that mental health charities have available to them and the Association is seeing many close their doors, or considering doing so,” she says.
Kathy warns: “Without the charity supporting a person to live safe and well in the community, not only will some of the most vulnerable people in our society be left without help, but their deteriorating mental health will most likely result in increase pressure on the NHS.”
The Association calculates more than two million people are either unable to access any mental health care or needing more specialist services than those being provided.
Kathy continues: “Our concerns are compounded when we see that there is significant variation across the country that Local Authorities and the NHS have to spend on mental health. This means when and how a person might receive support is entirely dependent on where they live, and there is an even greater inequality of access if you belong to a marginalised community.
Mental health charities provide an extensive range of support including counselling; talking therapies; housing and accommodation; money, benefits, and debt advice; advocacy; crisis; and more, taking a trauma-informed, and culturally appropriate approach where necessary.
Many of these services will often be the only support available to some of our most disadvantaged and marginalised communities including those that are racialised, children and young people, older people, people from an LGBTQ+, homeless, or criminal justice community. This whole-person, whole-system approach ensures that no one is left behind, and significantly, that there is a focus on prevention as well as recovery, reducing the wider impact on other services.
“As we look ahead to the Chancellor’s first Spring Budget, we urge the Government to propose a plan of action to support mental health charities and consider their essential role in the community in delivering services but also, in supporting vital parts of the wider system including social care, health, employment, housing, and criminal justice.”
“With the varying pressures and challenges worsening people’s mental wellbeing and contributing to increasing numbers of people experiencing mental health crisis and at risk of suicide, mental health must be at the top of our political and societal agendas. Mental health has not achieved parity with physical health, there is not the level of investment that is needed especially in the charity sector, and there is not fair and equitable access to mental health services in every local area for every community.”
Linda Bryant, Chief Executive of Together for Mental Wellbeing:
“With 1 in 4 people expected to experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, almost all of us will know someone who will need help and support or, we may need the support ourselves. The chances are, they will turn to a voluntary community sector or not-for-profit mental health organisation for that support.
“Whether it is access to a crisis helpline or, or face-to-face support over a number of weeks or indeed years, it is vital a person in crisis or experiencing longer term mental distress has access to the appropriate and compassionate care and support for their individual needs. As a mental health practitioner and leader with more than 35years of experience in providing services for people experiencing mental distress with all levels of need and backgrounds, mental health social care services are never more vital. I see that in my own charity without precedent.
“As a sector we face a legacy of being chronically underfunded and under-valued. We play a significant and essential role in meeting the needs of people with mental illness, or experiencing mental distress in local communities across the country. But that role has not be sufficiently recognised for far too long. This vital campaign is, therefore, about people. It is quite rightly about putting the spotlight on the critical role charitable organisations play in delivering mental health services, and I urge decision makers in central and local government to take action now.”
Former Sergeant Major Phil Credland, who is now a Commercial Manager received help from the charity St Andrew’s Healthcare. He explains how critical the support he received was:
“The St Andrew’s veteran service saved me. I can categorically say they pieced me back together and I want to say ‘thank you for bringing me back to life’.
“In all my years’ service and after retiring I had never known what was wrong with me. I thought what I was going through was what everybody was experiencing. It was only when I met the veteran service team that I started to realise that I was struggling quite considerably with my mental health.
“They talked to me, understood what it was that I needed. They stabilised me, developed a care treatment plan for me and referred me to a psychologist so I could get the proper treatment.”
The Association’s new #MHEqualityNow campaign aims to raise awareness of the exponentially rising unmet need for mental health services, and is calling on the Government to recognise the critical part mental health charities play in delivering mental health services by committing to sustainable ongoing and future funding for the sector.
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Note to editors
Association of Mental Health Providers (The Association) is the national voice for voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector (VCSE) providers of mental health and wellbeing services in England and Wales, generally known as mental health charities.
As a representative organisation, The Association has 300+ members who:
- deliver over 3000 services locally, regionally and nationally,
- reach 8 million+ people with poor mental health and mental illness. This equates to 1 in 8 of our population receiving support from a mental health charity.
- have a total membership turnover of £5.02bn (2021/22 FY), representing a significant proportion.
If Local Authority specialised commissioning services are included in the local Clinical Commissioning Group mental health spending, the total planned spend for mental health funding (including learning disabilities and dementia) is £15.56 billion in 2022/23.
Mental health patient contacts have gone up 76 per cent since April 2016 to 44 million appointments for mental health services in October 22.
The Association can provide insight, case studies, research and expertise on all aspects of mental health especially in relation to the VCSE sector, including but not limited to community services, commissioning, coproduction, workforce, and inequalities.
Rich media is available including photos, audio and video, and people supported by mental health charities available for interviews.
The Association supports, influences, advises, and informs, and is deeply committed to discussing and reporting stories relating to mental health ethically, responsibly, considering the needs of the most vulnerable people in our society. Please read the media charter here.
Through its Living Experience Advisory Group, The Association is working with, being guided by, and learning from people with experience of mental health services.
For more information, visit www.amhp.org.uk
Contact: Annie Waddington-Feather, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Telephone: 07713646419