The number of unexpected mental health deaths in England has doubled in three years, findings suggest. The statistics was gathered for the BBC's Panorama program based on results from half of mental health trusts. Suicide, neglect, and misadventure are identified as reasons for the increasing rate of deaths.
In England, thirty-three mental health trusts out of a total of 57 complied to the Panorama Freedom of Information request. The Department of Health in England stated the increase was "expected" after changes to the way deaths were recorded were implemented. The trust report a total of 2,067 unexpected deaths in 2012 and 2013, which had risen to 3,160 by 2015 and 2016.
Health analysts point at decreased funding for mental health trusts as primary cause of the rise in mental health deaths. The cut in health budget have led to numerous reports of decreasing quality of services including in the mental health sector. New analysis for Panorama from the Health Foundation indicates that mental health facilities suffer a large cut in their funding by £150m over the past four years, compared with the national health spending of £8bn, the BBC reports.
Marjorie Wallace, from the mental health charity Sane, comments on how shocked she was by the rise in unexpected deaths. "We are particularly concerned because these are the most vulnerable people that we have entrusted into the care of mental health services," she says. However, the spokesman of the Department of Health explains that the increase in the number of deaths was anticipated since the NHS has been improving the way such incidents are recorded and investigated after several past failures.
According to The Canary, since mental health issues are still highly stigmatized, patients have nowhere to run to as the governments continuously cuts budget for patient care. In addition, the government's modification of the employment systems is likely to cause more people to develop mental health issues. This means that mental health deaths may still rise in the future.