Councils defend record on mental health funding

Council chiefs have defended their record on mental health funding after a charity accused them of spending ‘next to nothing’ on mental health initiatives.

A freedom of information request by mental health charity Mind revealed local authorities were spending less than 1% of their public health budget on mental health services.

The Local Government Association (LGA) today argued Mind is ‘wrong’ to look at mental health funding ‘in isolation’ of other public health initiatives undertaken by councils.

‘It is wrong to look at mental health funding in isolation without considering the range of other services councils provide that directly impact on people with mental health issues,’ said Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board.

‘Local authorities do a huge amount of positive grassroots work including tackling obesity, and helping people to get active, stop smoking and cut down on drinking. As physical and mental health are inextricably linked, this has a major impact.’

Cllr Seccombe also pointed out that despite central Government cuts, councils have budgeted to spend £46m on public mental health in 2016/17.

‘Councils, who only took over responsibility for public health just over three years ago, cannot be expected to reverse decades of underinvestment in mental health spending by successive governments overnight,’ she continued.

‘Local authorities have a finite budget and many competing health priorities.’

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