FINANCE: Sussex is facing a worse hike in depression than other parts of the country, according to latest figures, at a time when Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust is also under pressure to make significant savings.

A report to the board of directors by Richard Ford, executive director of strategic development, showed mental health pressures are rising while resources for mental healthcare are falling in real terms. 

Sussex Partnership faces a savings challenge of £13.5m for 2012-13. 

Trust chief executive Lisa Rodrigues said: “Because of increased pressures on the services we provide, we have to do significantly more work with around 6 per cent less money than last year.

“We have promised that we will maintain the quality of our services – and we will fulfil that promise.  But we must recognise the scale of the challenge and the pressure of rising demand.”

Dr Ford said the trust would be working in collaboration with other organisations to understand what lay behind the increase.

Latest public health figures for mental health needs nationally – published in North East Health Observatory Community Mental Health Profiles 2012 – show:

  • In Brighton & Hove and in East Sussex there are more young people not in employment, education or training than the national average.  Young people in this category are more likely to suffer from mental health problems
  • More people are seeing GPs in Sussex with depression than the national average and more people are admitted to psychiatric emergency hospitals with depression than the national average 

Dr Ford: “We see greater numbers of young people needing talking therapies and early intervention services, and higher than national average levels of need in Sussex overall. This is not reflected in our funding rates which are below national averages.”

Dr Nick Lake, the trust’s clinical director for primary care and wellbeing services, added: ‘We know that the current economic climate, the gradually increasing unemployment rate, and the worry people have about potentially losing their jobs or getting into debt, are all leaving people more vulnerable to depression.  

“These could be factors in explaining why rates of depression are higher in Sussex.  But we really need to do more work with our partners to understand better what this higher than average figure is about.”