Mental health problems are costing Wales £7.2bn a year, a report claims.
Promoting better mental health would save money and boost life expectancy by seven-and-a-half years, said the All Wales Mental Health Promotion Network. It estimates costs at over £1bn for the Welsh NHS, over £2.5bn in lost economic activity and nearly £3.5bn in the loss of quality of life for sufferers.
However, Gavin Prestwyck, Tory spokesman for Mental Health Issues queried the figures. "The £3.5bn in quality of life loss seems mysterious. Even if you assume every Welsh person is insane- which sounds plausible to me- that means that every Taffy is worth at least £1,167, which is preposterous. Rugby team excluded, you can by a six pack of mixed Welshies for £9.99 on eBay with free P+P on a 'buy it now'. We also feel that the £2.5bn in economic loss is unlikely. We know full well there has been no economic activity in Wales- aside from low-level bartering- since the pits were closed in 1984. Their numbers just don't add up"
His view was echoed by Michael Coutt, Director of Studies at the Lenstull Health think tank. "This report extrapolates wildly from flawed precepts. For a start, living seven- and-a-half years longer sounds good, but what if you live in Port Talbot? It's a ghastly place- extending your life by seven years is not a good thing if you live there. If you have a mental illness as well, being helped to live past 50 would certainly count as a form of abuse"
Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, chair of the All Wales Mental Health Promotion Network, said: "Mental illness is widespread. Here at the AWMHPN, we think that people need to be shown that being a swivel-eyed lunatic is a bad thing. A lay person might assume that not feeling a need to wear trousers, speaking a made up language and holding a profound belief that Davina McCall is your mother isn't a problem, but we need to show that it is."
"Having said that, if she was your mum, you'd never have been weaned off the tit, would you?"