London's mental health spending is not enough to meet the needs of Londoners

29 January 2020

Mental health services in London are not spending enough to meet the needs of the capital, analysis from the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests.

London would have to spend approximately £325m more on mental health services to bring the amount spent per person in the capital up to the current average in England (£178.82).

For the first time, the amount spent per person has been calculated in a way that accounts for the level of need for mental health services in different areas with different populations.

For example, North East London (£135.19) and South East London (£142.60) spend the least per person of anywhere in England, when you factor in their higher than average need for mental health services.

The analysis was made possible by NHS England’s new approach to estimating local need for mental health services, which uses data on demand for IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) services, GP registrations and diagnostic information. It also uses data such as age, gender and ethnicity as well as average driving distance to the closest provider.

Dr Adrian James, Registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Our new analysis shows that London, a large city with a younger and more deprived population, isn’t spending enough on mental health services to meet the need for them.

“The Government’s ambitions for mental health, put forward in the Long Term Plan, should be commended, but the reality has to match the rhetoric. Need for services must continue to translate into money for services. Mental Health Watch is a vital tool for holding the Government to account on this.”

Previous analyses of the amount spent per person on mental health services have been based on the size of the population or a general estimate of the need for all health services (physical and mental health).

The new figures for each local area are being made available on Mental Health Watch, the College’s interactive website, which shows how well the mental health system in England is performing.

Isobel, aged 23, from South London, said: “I am not surprised to find out that London needs to spend more on people with mental illness. Since the age of 13 I have struggled to get treatment for my mental health, relying on other forms of support, like my family and a London-based charity.

“I am currently on a 9-month waiting list for help with my anxiety and phobias, so services are clearly struggling to meet demand.”

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