Image shows a line drawing of a brain
Image shows a line drawing of a brain

Mental health is one of the pressing issues of our time.  Mental ill-health is predicted to be the main cause of global mortality and morbidity by 2030.  According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, mental illness accounts for 23% of the global burden of disease in the UK, but in 2018, only 6.1% of the UK’s health research budget was spent on mental health.

Government priorities have a significant role in determining both what and how research is produced.  I believe that Ministers should have a whole-Government plan for improving mental health outcomes and should give mental health its fair share of funding.  I hope they will consider the points raised by the mental health research charity MQ and others.

I have submitted a written question on this subject:

‘To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase mental health research spending.’

I am also concerned that hundreds of millions of pounds were taken from the core science budget this year.  Many programmes remain in the dark about the funding on offer and find it impossible to plan ahead.

The UK sees great returns on research funding, both in terms of the economy and the positive impact for those who rely on breakthroughs in treatment.  Just as we need to renew public funding and support for the NHS, we also need to renew public funding and support for research as a public good.

The Government has committed to increase UK investment in research and development.  However, I am concerned that our medical research cannot recover if we continue at the level set out by Ministers.  I believe that the Government must go further and ensure spending on research and development grows to 3% of GDP.

More widely, the Government must guarantee investment in mental health services and ensure parity of esteem between mental and physical health.  Alongside a credible strategy to address long-standing gaps in the workforce, I support the establishment of a new NHS target that would guarantee mental health treatment within a month for all who need it.

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