gmusic@nurturingnatures.co.uk

Austerity, psychotherapy and worsening mental health

 

An important letter and accompanying report was published in the national press this week abhorring the effects of austerity and neoliberal politics on mental health services and on mental health generally . This is timely, not just because of the election, but because of the spiraling risks for now and for the future. Anyone working in services knows how they are being severely cut, making it harder and harder to access the kind of help that is needed. Only short-term ‘revolving door’ services are available to people in very serious need. Children’s mental health services are the most poorly funded, much less than adult mental health services which in turn have a fraction of health budgets. As an investigation by the charity Young Minds recently showed, children’s mental health services are in crisis.

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Mental health downturns, the recession and services

Suicide rates in Britain in 2011 were the highest seen for 10 years, at 6047, according to the Office for National Statistics, an 8% raise in just one year. The increase is mainly seen in men, and in fact in men between their late 30’s and 40’s (23.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2011), an age where one’s economic position is increasingly important. Although the data is not available  with these particular  statistics, other studies suggest very clearly that at times of economic stress suicide rates increase, and it would be surprising if the economic crisis was not implicated in some serious way. This is something seen in any number of public documents ( eg The World Health Organisation or a major European parliament Report (click for link) which argued that the evidence was unequivocal, in terms of the rise in mental health issues such as depression, even suggesting that for every 1% rise in unemployment one would expect an increase in suicides of .8%.

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