Shortage of beds is one thing, but it’s the reduction in qualified staff and the lack of money that are really crippling the service

The reduction in beds for mental health makes a good headline (“Number of NHS beds for mental health patients slumps by 30%”, News), but it is not the main concern. The article highlights the reduction in qualified mental health professionals: mental health nurses down from 46,155 to 39,358 and a reduction in the number of trainee psychiatrists. This is the real crisis.

It is estimated that mental health is 22.8% of the burden of illness in the NHS but receives only 10.8% of funding. The reduction in qualified professionals means parity of esteem for mental health is a pipe dream as there are not enough qualified people to employ if funding increased. Mental health policy needs to be dynamic and imaginative in addressing this paradox. There needs to be a stratospheric increase in funding. Initially, this should address training of mental health professionals. Funding should be aimed at increasing community provision, not bed-based inpatient solutions. Let’s ensure that inpatient admissions are only necessary after high-quality community alternatives...

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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18 February 2019