The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement has failed to commit to the level of investment needed to make a difference to the mental health of the nation.

Measures announced included by Jeremy Hunt today included cutting National Insurance and increasing the state pension, Universal Credit and disability benefits.

We recognise the need to put money back into people’s pockets and to support small businesses as the nation continues to feel the impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis.

But we’d have liked to have seen some serious investment into mental health services to offset the continued mental health crisis facing the nation.  

Mental health support for veterans

While we're pleased to see the Chancellor today announce an additional £10 million invested in mental health support for veterans, we know many community counselling services are struggling to meet growing demand while their own income is falling and costs are increasing.  

Last week, in a preview to today’s statement, the Government committed to increase the number of people benefitting from NHS Talking Therapies by an additional 384,000 over the next five years and to increasing the number of sessions available. This was part of a commitment to support an additional 100,000 people with severe mental illness find and keep jobs over the next five years via their Individual Placement and Support scheme.

However, we’re concerned that the plan also includes the strengthening of the sanctions system which will have a negative impact on people's wellbeing and mental health.

While this was the last Autumn Statement ahead of the next  General Election, there will be further opportunities to make the case for investment ahead of March’s Budget.

Improve access to therapy

Our focus is now on campaigning to all political parties to highlight the need for investment and action that will improve access to therapy and also expand paid opportunities for therapists.

Martin Bell, our Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “This was a missed opportunity to invest in the mental health of the nation.

“The Government has yet again failed to see the bigger picture about how its policies and decisions impact on people’s wellbeing.

General Election

“With a General Election on the horizon, it’s vital that all political parties understand the need for and importance of investing in mental health support, such as counselling and psychotherapy.

“A priority for the next Government must be increasing funding for mental health support in the NHS, schools, community organisations and workplaces.

“They must make decisions that support people’s mental health and wellbeing, not detract from it.

“We’ll continue to campaign to ensure that the talent and expertise of our members can be used to help address the growing need for mental health support.”

In our submission to the Chancellor, ahead of today's Autumn statement, we highlighted the importance of bringing in already qualified counsellors into the NHS to tackle backlogs and support more people who are struggling with their mental health alongside critical investment in third sector mental health services.

We also called on the Chancellor to reduce the cost of therapy by extending the VAT exemption to all individual Professional Standards Authority registered and accredited members and registrants who are qualified counsellors and psychotherapists, removing unnecessary barriers to access mental health support.

You can read our representation to the Treasury ahead of today’s budget in our Autumn statement submission (pdf 300kb)