A newly launched modelling tool from Public Health England, developed in partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), identifies the most cost-effective programmes to help prevent mental ill health in local communities.
Designed to aid local public health teams, the programmes it identifies are proven to reduce the incidence and/or risk of mental health problems at all stages of life: children and young people, the working age population and older people. Mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK. The cost to the economy is estimated at £105 billion a year.
The full list of programmes identified in the Return on Investment tool are:
- Children: whole school anti bullying programme - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £1.58 (over 4 years)
- Children: social and emotional learning - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £5.08 (over 3 years)
- Workplace: wellbeing programme - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £2.37 (over 1 year)
- Workplace: stress prevention - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £2.00 (over 2 years)
- Collaborative care for physical health problems - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £1.52 (over 2 years)
- Older people: tackling loneliness through volunteering and social activities - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £1.26 (over 5 years)
- Adults: debt and welfare service - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £2.60 (over 5 years)
- Adults: suicide prevention - every £1 invested results in an estimated saving to society of £2.93 (over 10 years)
Alongside the tool, PHE has published several other evidence-based resources that will help local areas create effective public health systems that can prevent as well as treat mental ill health.
Duncan Selbie, chief Executive at Public Health England said:
"A lot of mental health illness can be prevented, this will not only improve the quality of life of the individual but also provide economic benefits by reducing the financial burden of mental ill health, which has been estimated to cost the UK £105 billion a year.
"In order to provide a truly 21st century response to this important public health issue we have to give equal attention to the prevention of mental ill health as well as treating it."
Health Minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said:
"Improving the nation's mental health is a government priority.
"The tool and resources published today will give public services the evidence they need to ensure spending on mental health is as cost effective as possible.
"It is part of a broad and ambitious plan to combat mental illness, which includes the first ever access and waiting time standards and record levels of public spending on mental health provision."
Professor Martin Knapp, Director of PSSRU at LSE said:
"From our research in this field, there is good evidence for these (and other) interventions for mental health promotion and prevention. Our work, led by David McDaid, has concentrated on the likely returns on investment that adopting these interventions will make and bring to local areas. This work is good news for mental health and good news for encouraging a focus on prevention alongside care and treatment."
The tool and other resources are an important turning point in moving towards a more prevention focussed approach – helping those who are experiencing challenges to their mental health and also helping to improve mental health within local communities.
In order to achieve this movement action is required not just from the health, social care and public health sectors but also the community and voluntary sectors to give more attention to the wider causes of mental health problems including health inequalities and wider social determinants.
Major health bodies have thrown their support behind preventing mental ill health, signing a statement of intent. The Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health has also been published today and is signed by agencies including NHS England, the Local Government Association, NICE, the Faculty of Public Health and Association of Directors of Public Health.