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Where next for mental health in the UK?

By Forster Communications

17 May 2016

Mental health has come a long way over the last decade or two but there is still more that can be done to ensure appropriate products and services are in place to help. We asked some of our clients and associates working in mental health to share their thoughts. You can join the conversation by using #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director, Business in the Community:

“Businesses are waking up to the need to act on mental health and we are starting to see many more organisations tackle the stigma and have more open conversations about mental health in the workplace. We will continue to see more businesses understand that taking proactive, positive approaches to mental health is not only a moral imperative but can also be a core driver of engagement and productivity. It is a marker of an organisation that values and supports its employees. To really make a big change, we hope to see more senior leaders speaking out on mental health in the future and leading from the top in their actions, as well as investing in training and seeing line managers as having a crucial role to develop and drive organisational approaches to mental health. Businesses that don’t wake up to the opportunities of supporting mental health will be left behind. We will soon reach a unique point in history where mental health – much like AIDS and cancer before it – is finally talked about openly and managed as effectively as possible.”

Neil Balmer, Head of Communications, MQ:

“The future I hope for is one where science is being put to work to tackle mental illness. So that our understanding of conditions are transformed, the best treatments are effective and accessible, and prevention is made a reality. With rising public awareness and political support, there has never been a better time to demand this.”

Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health:

“In the last 20 years we have seen great changes in public and political discussions about mental health. Once a forgotten topic, rarely talked about without reference to lazy stereotypes about dangerousness, mental health is now reported on regularly in the media, debated in Parliament and discussed confidently by Royals and celebrities. Voices of lived experience are now frequently heard on television and social media rather than only being talked about by ‘experts’. Yet for too many people, life with a mental health problem is still harder than it should be. Too many children spend years with difficulties that don’t get picked up or that get confused with bad behaviour. Too many people miss out in the world of work without the right help. The challenge for the next two decades will be to ensure that the conversations we have now lead to real and sustained improvements in people’s lives.”

A spokesperson for Time to Change:

“Public attitudes are slowly starting to improve, however we’ve still got work to do before no one has to fear judgement or shame because of their mental health problem. Our aspiration is that discrimination becomes rare and extraordinary, and people feel empowered to challenge it when it does happen. More and more people are speaking openly about their mental health problem than ever before and we want this to continue. Over 30 years ago people didn’t want to talk about some physical health problems such as cancer, which we are now much more open about, and we think we are starting to see the same transformation with mental health. “Employers are also becoming more attuned to the issue and recognising the value in taking action and looking after the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce. We want to see even more employers seeing the importance of good mental health as critical to good business, as well as discrimination in the workplace not being tolerated.”

Amy Meadows, Judi Meadows Memorial Fund:

“Mental health problems are common, their frequency is increasing and the impact they have on society is enormous. Yet despite the prevalence and consequence there is a woeful inadequacy of efforts to understand how to prevent, identify and treat mental ill-health. Just 5.5% of UK research budgets are spent studying mental health. Whereas cancer research gets around four times more investment. In 2011 cancer research received the equivalent of £1,571 per cancer patient compared with £9.75 per adult with mental illness. There is an urgent need to see mental health research being prioritised and I want to see a minimum of 10% of total budgets invested by 2020.”