Surrey County Council is proposing a new focus and funding boost to tackle an impending mental health crisis.
It says it is in response to the COVID pandemic having served to intensify the existing pressures on mental health services and making it harder for people to get the support they need.
As part of the county’s No One Left Behind agenda, the County Council is announcing a plan for an extra £8m of focused investment in mental health services in Surrey. This is part of £46.5m allocated to improving mental health in the Council’s proposed 2022/23 budget. The money will deliver faster and better care for those needing help, extra support for young people and more prevention and early intervention to stop people reaching crisis point.
Tim Oliver, Surrey County Council leader, said: “The issue of mental health is a ticking time bomb and we need to sort it out as soon as possible.
“The pandemic has created profound challenges for so many of our residents in particular for our young people over the past year. Across the board we’ve seen trends of increasing levels of depression, self-harm, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health issues in teens. Residents have consistently said that mental health is one of their top concerns. This is an impending crisis, and it is vital we recognise that and invest now, rather than wait for pressures to get worse.”
The additional funding further helps Surrey’s work on combating mental health issues, including;
- More mental health counsellors
- Extra help in schools to improve young people’s mental health
- More practitioners to aid people’s recovery
- Grants to mental health charities
- Investment in suicide prevention
- More practical advice for residents to enjoy better mental health
- Increase in early support like talking therapy
- More mental health hospital beds for people in crisis
- Specialist accommodation for people in recovery
Following the second COVID lockdown in 2021, there were increases of up to 89% in referrals through the Council’s Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA) and a 66% increase in demand for children’s eating disorder services. In terms of adults at the same time, there was a 45% rise in referrals to Home Treatment Teams, Psychiatric Liaison and intensive support teams. Referrals and pressures have remained high ever since.
Surrey County Council and partners have carried out a widescale review into mental health provision and identified where improvements can be made. It says today’s announcement will help provide the investment to deliver those improvements.
The additional planned investment will be specifically ring-fenced and delivered from a proportion of Council Tax, from April this year.
Further additional funding is to be directed towards addressing increased pressures on Adult Social Care, which have also been exacerbated by the impact of COVID.
The total Council Tax increase proposed is 4.99% and is made up of:
- 0.99% increase to fund the increased cost of delivering services
- 3% increase to fund additional spend in adult and children’s social care
- 1% increase to fund additional investment in mental health.
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