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Mental Health Services In England Leading The Way In Europe

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Health Secretary Alan Johnson today welcomed publication of a landmark international report, which highlights that mental health services in England are leading the way in Europe.

The report from the World Health Organisation, published to mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October, showed that:

* England directs 13.8% of the health budget towards mental health - highest level in Europe among those who submitted figures

* We provide high levels of access to mental health care, with 12.7 psychiatrists per 100,000 population, compared to the European average of 8.9.

* Access to mental health nursing care is also higher than average, with 51.9 nurses per 100,000, compared with the European average of 18.7.

* England are the only country to provide a comprehensive network of specialist early intervention teams

* England is one of only three countries to provide comprehensive access to assertive outreach teams.

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* England has 23 mental health beds per 100,000, reflecting continued focus on moving mental health treatment out of institutions and into the community.

Alan Johnson said: "I'm delighted that the WHO has recognised the transformation in mental health care in England over the last ten years. On World Mental Health Day, this is a huge tribute to the thousands of committed front line staff who have built a service we now know ranks among the very best.

"Our level of investment in mental health has risen to one of the highest in Europe and we now have over 700 teams providing innovative community based services as instead of treating people in hospital. The outdated and pernicious concept of "the asylum" is over but our commitment to improving services further is undiminished.

"I welcome the work by the WHO and the European Commission to promote exchange between countries and share experiences in improving mental health systems."

Matt Muijen, Regional Adviser for Mental Health, WHO Europe, said: "The ambition and pace of change in England have been remarkable over the last 10 years, and mental health services here are increasingly being seen across Europe as a model to follow. This does not mean that everything is perfect in England - but I am saying that the political will as demonstrated by the financial investment in order to produce a nationwide comprehensive and co-ordinated system of care is impressive, and is recognised internationally as such.

"The report we are launching here today reflects real improvements in resources, workforce and community services that should be reflected in patients' experiences. I hope that the WHO can help to share what you have learned much more widely."

The Government is committed to continued improvement of mental health services. Spending on adult services has increased by ?1.7billion since 20001/02, which has led to radical improvements. We now have over 60% more consultant psychiatrists, almost 80% more clinical psychologists and at least 20% more mental health nurses than we had in 1997, providing better care and support for people with mental health problems. An update of the National Services Framework on Mental Health is expected late 2009.

A number of events also took place today (10 October) to mark World Mental Health Day. One event by MIND saw a mass walk on Battersea Park, the culmination of a week of mass-participation physical activity, called 'Get Moving', to promote the benefits of physical exercise for mental wellbeing. The event was part of an ?18m charity sector-led campaign called 'Time to Change' to promote wellbeing and challenge discrimination against people with mental illness.