Local authorities have a remit to prevent both physical and mental health problems in the communities they serve, using their public health budgets. Millions of pounds are spent every year to prevent people developing physical health problems like obesity, heart disease or cancer.
But research by the charity Mind found that local authorities spend far too little on preventing mental health problems and are confused about what they should do to help prevent people becoming mentally unwell.
In the East of England only 1.1 per cent of this budget is spent on mental health. With around one in four of us experiencing a mental health problem this year, this figure is unacceptably low.
Demand for local NHS mental health services is rising and rising and we have all seen reports that our NHS is struggling to cope. Prevention is the key to making sure we reduce the impact on the health service in future. We need the next Government to introduce a national strategy to ensure local authorities know what to do, and use their budgets to prevent mental health problems developing and reduce the number of people becoming unwell.