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Mental illness care bill to rise

An independent think tank has called for more investment in treating people with mental illness, in order to help them get back to work and reduce pressure on the health service.

A report from the King's Fund said that the cost of caring for people with mental illness is expected to rise from £22.5bn to £47bn by 2026.

It said mental illness cost £50bn in England in 2007, with £22.5bn of that spent on NHS and social care services. But another £26.1bn represented the estimated cost to the economy of lost earnings, and that figure is projected to rise to £41bn by 2026.

The year-long study, called Paying the Price, said the prevalence of most mental disorders, including schizophrenia, is likely to remain stable over the next 20 years.

However, the increasingly aging population means dementia is expected to rise massively over the same period, up by almost two thirds (61%) from 582,827 to 937,636 people.

"The government, the NHS, social services and employers need to extend efforts to help people with mental health needs who are of working age but not in employment to get back to work," said Professor Martin Knapp, co-author of the report.

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King's Fund