Drop in mental health investment damaging to the economy

Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has published her annual report, saying that lack of investment for mental health could have cost the economy between £70-100 billion in lost work days, a figure she characterises as “astounding”. The report calls for a fast-tracked process for working people at risk of falling out of work to address the problem, as the number of working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety has increased by 24% since 2009.

The report also recommends other changes to help people with mental illness stay in work, including flexible working hours and employers making early and regular contact with employees on sick leave. It is also noted that 75% of people with diagnosable mental health illness receive no treatment at all, while an increased focus is needed on mental health for children and young people. Understanding the link between long-term physical conditions and mental health and developing psychiatric expertise in primary care are also suggested as key improvements in mental health service provision.