Mental health coverage in needs assessments and associated opportunities

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BackgroundMental disorders account for almost a third of UK disease burden. Cost effective public mental health interventions have broad public health relevant impacts. Since coverage of such interventions is low, assessment of local coverage is important.MethodsA total of 23 Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) around London were assessed for different mental health intelligence.ResultsMental health was poorly covered and difficult to locate in JSNAs. Only a minority of JSNAs mentioned most mental disorders while far fewer JSNAs provided local prevalence estimates or numbers receiving treatment. Only 6% JSNAs included local wellbeing levels and any mental wellbeing promotion initiative mentioned included no information about coverage. Most JSNAs provided little information about impact of mental disorder or broader determinants on mental health. No JSNAs included associated economic implications or information about size of mental health unmet need.ConclusionsLack of mental health representation in JSNAs means local authorities and clinical commissioning groups cannot perform statutory duties to assess local health needs to inform strategic development and commissioning. This perpetuates poor coverage of public mental health interventions. Actions to improve mental health representation in JSNAs are suggested. Improved coverage of such interventions will result in broad public health relevant impacts and associated economic savings.

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