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Election 2015
Policy analysis from the Centre for Economic Performance


Mental illness (especially depression and chronic anxiety) is the biggest single cause of misery in advanced countries. But only one quarter of those who are ill receive treatment. Mental health is crucial for wellbeing and there are modern evidence-based ways of treating mental health problems which have no net cost to the Exchequer. What are the most important factors affecting wellbeing in our society? And what low-cost ways do we have of improving wellbeing, when 'all the money's gone'? The final briefing in the CEP 2015 Election Analyses series looks at the progress made in the provision of treatment for mental health problems and considers the plans each major party have put forward to both maintain and expand services.

Press Release

Friday 1st May 2015

A New Priority For Mental Health:

New #ElectionEconomics policy briefing from the Centre for Economic Performance

The final report in the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) series of background briefings on key policy issues in the May 2015 UK general election calls on the three main political parties to commit themselves to raising dramatically the coverage of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), the service that provides psychological therapies for depression and anxiety disorders.

The report's author Professor Richard Layard explains why treating mental illness should be high on the public agenda, especially as proven psychological therapies effectively cost nothing:
  • Mental health is the biggest single factor affecting whether people are satisfied with their lives.

  • Bad mental health costs the economy at least £70 billion in lost output and costs the economy £10 billion in extra physical healthcare due to mental illness.

  • At present, only 15% of adults with depression and anxiety disorders are offered psychological therapy recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). By 2020, this should increase to 25%.

  • Only 25% of children with mental health disorders receive any form of treatment. By 2020 this should rise to 33% receiving NICE-recommended treatments.

  • This expansion should be mainly school-based, with a clear integration of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and school-based provision.

  • The net cost of providing these treatments would be zero due to the huge savings on disability benefits, crime, social services and additional physical healthcare.
Professor Richard Layard, author of the report, says:

"The key development in the last Parliament was the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which established 'parity of esteem' for mental and physical health. This means that people should have the same access to NICE-recommended treatments whether their problem is with mental or physical health.

"But we are currently far from that situation. The main failing is the shortage of psychological therapy - and the main achievement of previous governments has been to begin reducing that shortage.

"The most important task now is to maintain the expansion of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme."

For further information, contact:

Richard Layard
07790 906 206

Romesh Vaitilingam
07768 661095

Helen Durrant
+44 (0)20 7955 7395

Jo Cantlay
+44 (0)20 7955 7285