Spend on mental health will need to double to bring the proportion of people receiving NHS treatment up from 40 percent to 70 percent, claims a report commissioned by the NHS Confederation.

The key conclusion of the report Securing the Future: funding health and social care to the 2030s, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Health Foundation, was that UK spend on healthcare must rise by an average 3.3 percent a year over the next 15 years just to maintain provision at current levels, and by at least 4 percent a year if services are to be improved.

But the report also includes a model under which 70 percent of people with mental health problems receive treatment for their condition on the NHS, which is only achievable if mental health funding more than doubles to £32 billion a year by 2033-34, from 9 percent of the health budget to around 12 percent.

“It is well publicised we are seeing a rise in the number of people needing treatment for mental health issues and it was a welcome step for the government to state its intention to put mental health on equal standing with physical health, said Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation.

“But if we are to really take mental health seriously and not fail thousands of people in need of help then one thing is crystal clear – investment must be found.”

He went on to say that “all services, including mental health services, must continue to strive to be as efficient as they can be – but this is about protecting our health and ensuring people experiencing mental health problems are not left without proper treatment and support.”

Apps use on the rise

Meanwhile, new research by GK Strategy and onefourzero has found that demand for mental health apps has increased fivefold - by 566 percent - since 2014.

“Wider recognition of mental health, alongside advances in technology has driven demand for apps in this field,” the groups note.

The research also found that demand for online GP and prescription services has doubled since 2014.

“New health apps are unlocking the power of smartphone technology to deliver services directly to people and patients, reducing the need for expensive equipment or time spent in hospitals,” said Robin Grainger, group chief executive at GK Strategy.

“We have seen regulators and the wider medical community respond cautiously, and often negatively, to this innovation. As these products mature and become a mainstay in people’s lives, the major brands will increasingly need to tackle the arguments posed against them.”