Bridge Reduces the Socio-economic Impact of Mental Illness

March 22, 2017

Mental health recovery is not an overnight matter. After a diagnosis, a journey begins. This may involve hospitalisation before discharge into the community. However, once in the community what then? Many people who receive a mental health diagnosis find themselves at sea navigating ‘the system’. Mental ill health affects every area of a person’s life from financial implications and housing issues to impacts on relationships.

In this country, the NHS provide a system of community mental health teams who pick up on a client’s recovery after any discharge from psychiatric hospital. Though, due to underfunding over years of different Governments and an oversubscription as mental ill-health becomes a modern-day epidemic, more and more, charities like Bridge, are finding they are ‘bridging the gap’ left by NHS services.

Bridge CEO Raymond Sheehy said: “Things are happening in the mental health system, but progress is very slow. All sorts of services are working in isolation. So, what Bridge does is brings them together. So let’s drops our egos, let’s work together and look at someone as a whole person and work together to help them.”

Bridge works in partnership with NHS trusts, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and social enterprises to ensure their clients have the best chance of recovery and has been doing so successfully for 30 years: Bridge’s 30th anniversary conference. Our flexible support service which offers one-to-one support within the community for our clients is now oversubscribed due to popular demand, highlighting the real need out there.

Prime Minister Theresa May recently announced a new government initiative to “transform” attitudes to mental health, and break down stigma, however she did not ring fence new funding which campaigners called for. Government figures show that one in four people have a mental health problem at some point in their life, with an annual cost of £105bn.

Our Tilt forensic mental health project, is a ground breaking initiative. Providing support to ex-offenders with mental health within the community, excellent staff working has ensured that reoffending rates are as low as 5%, whereas the national reoffending average of adults released from custody is 44.7%.

Recovery Colleges have sprung up around the country and are providing much needed support to their students within the community. Read more about Recovery Colleges including our Recovery College in Woolwich: Recovery Colleges – bridging the gap in mental health service provision

Our Recovery College currently has over 1,000 students enrolled on its educational courses. The College provides these students with much-needed life skills and is also a place to find others in a similar position. One student commented: “I made new friends and learnt from others. It helped me find ways of staying active.”

20% of our students go onto training or employment and we are increasing that figure all the time. Much research has been done to show that finding a purpose in life such as training, education or employment can be key to sustaining strong recovery.

Greenwich University has written a report evaluating the benefit of the Recovery College. They found that in January 2014 the Greater London Authority published “London Mental Health: The invisible costs of mental ill health”. “London Mental Health: The invisible costs of mental ill health”. The report notes that comparing the current health states of adults with depression or anxiety and the health states they would experience without these issues suggests that anxiety and depression are responsible for a Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) loss of around 0.13 on average. The human component (that is the intrinsic enjoyment of life) of a QALY has been valued at £42,000 per QALY in current prices.

From responses from the Recovery College students it is estimated that their QALY loss will have reduced from 0.13 noted above to around one third of this, or 0.04. Thus benefit generated by the College has been to mitigated the impact of depression and anxiety from a loss of £1.27 million, to £0.5m or a saving of £0.78 million.

The report also identified output losses in terms of increased worklessness and sickness absence and reduced productivity. The report noted that, when comparing rates of employment for those with and without a common mental health disorder, 180,000 additional individuals were out of work in London though they note that causation was not clearly established. £7.2 billion divided by 180,000 individuals amounts to lost output around £40k per individual. Given that 5 of a sample of 38 students have reported that our Recovery College has helped them find a job, or given them the confidence to set up their own business or charity, lost output of £0.2 million has been avoided.

As a result of attending Recovery College Greenwich, it is assumed that all attending students will have reduced the need to utilise public sector treatments, by 50% for primary care and substance misuse services, and 25% for secondary and tertiary care, physical healthcare and social care services with an overall reduction in public treatment spending of over £400k.

Now, more than ever, charities such as Bridge are being inundated with people seeking help and support that they are just not finding elsewhere. Thanks to national campaigning from other charities such as Mind and Time to Change, the stigma around seeking help for one’s mental health is breaking down and more than ever people are calling for help.

We will continue to strive tirelessly to fulfil the need, however, as the Government continues not to ringfence new money for mental health services, the crisis is upon us and growing every day.

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