Today is Time to Talk day, when people are being encouraged to by taking 5 minutes out of their day to have a conversation about mental health.
Time to Talk day is one of the major points of the year for the Time to Change campaign – England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. Time to Change has done a terrific job since it started in 2007 and has had a demonstrable, considerable effect on people’s attitudes towards mental health.
I’m fully supportive of the Time to Change campaign.
One thing I struggle with, though, is seeing politicians – particularly Ministers – blithely adding their support to such campaigns.
The reason, you see, is this:
The red box shows real-terms spending on mental health has decreased year-on-year since 2009/10  – from £1.32billion in 2009/10 to £1.10billion in 2013/14.
Now, I understand the difficulties that politicians, including Ministers, have in discharging their public duties. They want to use their position to promote good campaigns, or to provide direction to something they hope will bring along the public, and this often involves talking about things that aren’t necessarily being talked about.
But when the reality of their actions is so far away from their warm words – as documented in mental health virtually every week over the last 4.5 years, and as symbolised by the real-terms cut in mental health budgets – it becomes pretty hard to swallow.
It’s certainly #timetotalk about #mentalhealth: to highlight the gap between politicians’ and Ministers’ talk and action. For them it’s far less #timetotalk and much more #timetoact.
 – Source for this is Table 3.4 in HSCIC’s 2013/14 social services expenditure report (pdf). The table above represents adult social care spending for people aged 18-64; the situation is replicated for people aged 65+ as well. To see the equivalent figures in the health system for the last 3 years see Andy McNicoll’s excellent analysis here.
 – See, for example, Nick Clegg’s mental health taskforce or Norman Lamb “pursuing for the last six months or so” out-of-area placements for people with serious mental health problems (presumably in the same way they’ve been pursuing for the last three years or so the number of people with learning disabilities in specialist inpatient units with, ahem, such success.)