Where you live plays a major role in your mental wellbeing | Torsten Bell

Mental health varies greatly across the country. Last year, the estimated rates of child mental disorder were as high as 20.5% in the West Midlands but only half in London.

There are also large gaps in the number of people who receive mental health support. A new US study looked at a significant disparity between older adults across states: People over 65 in Massachusetts were twice as likely than those in Nevada to use mental health services. Records of those moving between regions reveal that most (60%) of the gaps in mental health care use were related to the same locations.

This makes you immediately think of different levels of supply and quality, the kind that encourage the setting of national standards; NHS England has just ended advising on the new promises, including that patients who need urgent care are screened by mental health crisis teams within 24 hours.

But differences in health care provision explain only a fifth of the location-driven variance — and local attitudes toward mental health make a big difference, too. This is important: Higher use of mental health care services is associated with a lower suicide rate. On this side of the Atlantic, we have our own contrast, seeing 13.3 suicides per 100,000 people in the Northeast last year versus 9.3 in the East Midlands. the lesson? We need to improve the UK’s distressed provision of mental health services and maintain progress in attitudes towards seeking help.

Torsten Bell is CEO of The Resolution Foundation. Read more at Resolutionfoundation.org

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