The UK’s failure to provide adequate mental health care is costing us nearly £17 billion per year in late interventions. Apart from the escalated medical expense of treating acute and chronic conditions compared to the cost of early interventions, untreated mental illness snowballs into a costly affair across the public sector.
The Early Intervention Foundation provides us with the following itemised bill for late interventions:
The cost of late intervention is distributed across different areas of the public sector, with the largest shares of the bill picked up by:
While early intervention projects take a long-term view on improving health outcomes, case studies from across the UK illustrate that they can be surprisingly simple to implement and quick to show results.
The 2015 Clinical Commissioners’ report, Local Solutions to National Challenges, tells of one such scenario set in 2011/12. Concerned with the increasingly large sums spent on unscheduled care (£86 million at that point), Blackpool CCG and Fylde and Wyre CCG embarked on a fact-finding mission. Their research revealed the following:
As an experiment in preventative care, the commissioning groups launched a combined campaign focused on the top users of unscheduled care. Frequent callers to the emergency services were phoned and asked about their various health problems. In many cases, seemingly unrelated conditions like anxiety, depression, loneliness, and self-harm were mentioned. Where appropriate, people with a need for mental health support were given immediate access to local services.
And there it is: when their emotional and social needs were met, the patients’ medical problems tended to disappear.
The project resulted in the following wins for the communities:
While scenarios like the one above illustrate the immediate savings to be won by early intervention projects, the long-term benefits make the case for this approach even more compelling. Studies on the long-term economic benefits of promoting the mental health and wellbeing of children promise lucrative outcomes:
Are you looking for a tailored early intervention campaign to fit the needs of your community? Bridge provides support to over 1,000 people every year through a full range of services, from 24-hour supported accommodation to flexible visiting support. Our dedicated staff are available to guide you on current thinking, evidence-based treatment and professional practices that can be implemented in a local setting.