Mental health research 'needs cash boost'

More investment in mental health research would quickly save the health service money, a major European study suggests.

Researchers have said the cost of treating conditions such as asthma increase substantially when patients also have mental health problems.

They argue UK research funding for mental health - which is currently £115m - should be trebled.

But officials say mental health research is already high on the agenda.

'Surviving the system'

The health department in England says the spend on mental health research is second only to cancer, through the government-funded National Institute for Health Research.

But the three-year European Commission-funded research project urges both the private sector and government to do more.

Writing in the Lancet Psychiatry, experts set out six priorities that they believe would have the biggest impact on mental health services over the next five to 10 years.

For example, they suggest advances in science - such as new techniques to identify genes that put people at risk - should help kick-start the development of new treatments.

And the report recommends scientists have greater access to European mental health databases, to help pool results across similar studies.

A lead researcher, Prof Til Wykes, from King's College London, said: "The impact of mental disorders is rising - now we have the science to bridge these gaps, funding mental health research will benefit everyone in the long run - in health and wellbeing as well as financially."

The concerns were echoed by Cynthia Joyce, of the charity MQ: Transforming Mental Health.

She said public donations in support of mental health research remained small when compared with other diseases such as cancer.

She added: "A lot of our current dialogue is about surviving in the current system. What we're talking about is improving things in the longer term, not just applying Band-Aids."

In response to the findings, a health department official said: "Mental health research accounts for the largest number of clinical trials through the government-funded National Institute of Health Research."

Officials agreed they would look closely at the report and acknowledged the need for mental health charities that fulfilled a similar role to major charities involved in cancer research.

But they argued that studies already being financed could have a greater impact if the resulting evidence was adopted more widely and quickly within the service.

Article found on BBC News