Mental Health research investment woefully low

BRITAIN is spending only £8 per affected person in researching the causes of mental health illness, compared with £178 currently spent on cancer, the UK’s only mental health research charity warned last night.

More than one-in-four of us are affected by mental health illnesses

 

 

With more than one-in-four of us affected by mental health illnesses ranging from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder the charity MQ is launching a drive to increase investment in this vital area.

Of the £115m spent on mental health research in Britain every year, 85 per cent is funded by three bodies:  the Wellcome Trust, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).  The charity Cancer Research alone contributes £386 million into finding cures for cancer. That difference is laid bear with the statistic that every £1 spent by the Government on cancer research is matched by a further £2.75 in charity donations. The figure for mental health is less than a third of a penny.

“Current funding of mental health research does not do justice to the scale or impact of mental illness on individuals, families and communities,’ said MQ ceo Cynthia Joyce.

“Successive governments, all political parties and the current Prime Minister have made mental health a priority. And yet the reality on the ground does not reflect this change. Practically every day a new headline warns us of serious problems with our mental health services.

 “The great breakthroughs in diseases like cancer, HIV, have only been possible with leadership from Government and unprecedented public support for research. Now in the time for mental health research.”

On Tuesday cabinet minsters Andrea Leadsom and Penny Mordaunt will be joined by MPs and celebrities at a private even in Parliament to discuss ways of driving funding.

 

 

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Andrea Leadsom will discuss ways of driving funding
 

Last night David Roach, a Conservative candidate and PR consultant who organised the event, said: “I have struggled in my adult life to cope with anxiety and depression. When I was diagnosed, and started to tell my friends, it was shocking to me how many of them were suffering from similar issues. These were people I’d known for years. Some had even been on anti-depressants and I had no idea.

“We talk about one in four suffering from mental health issues but I strongly suspect it is might higher than this, because so many suffer in silence and don’t necessarily seek treatment.

“If 15 million people suddenly got flue, there would be national emergency. Yet when it comes to mental health, we seem to be happy to proceed at a glacial pace in tackling its root causes. “

To donate, visit www.mqmentalhealth.org

 

 

Link to Sunday Express article here  

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Raising awareness of mental health issues is not enough

The profile of mental health has been raised significantly in the past few years, partly due to campaigning from mental health charities and partly due to high-profile people – from Prince Harry to Professor Green – speaking publicly and candidly about their own mental health problems. All of this should be welcomed as it removes the stigma around mental health and encourages people who are suffering in silence to seek help.

However, the awareness movement is not without its pitfalls. It is sometimes co-opted by people to advance their own agenda, such as increasing a fanbase or grabbing media attention.

YouTube celebrity, Logan Paul, recently caused outrage when he uploaded a video of a dead person in Aokigahara forest in Japan – a place known to be a frequent site for suicides. The video was viewed more than 9m times before Paul took it down. The YouTube “vlogger” apologised, saying he “intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention”. Judging by the response on Twitter, many people weren’t convinced by his excuse.

The awareness movement has also, at times, been hijacked by politicians and bureaucrats. They publicly declare their commitment to raising awareness – drawing plaudits for their sensitivity and bravery – while simultaneously under-investing in mental health services.

Late last year, it was revealed that half of all Clinical Commissioning Groups – NHS bodies responsible for commissioning healthcare services for their local area – are not planning on spending more on mental health services this financial year, despite a huge increase in demand for these services. Speaking to The Independent, Labour MP Luciana Berger said: “Theresa May claims to be committed to improving mental health but her cuts are harming mental health services.”

A few months earlier, a BBC Radio 5 Live investigation found that, out of 39 mental health trusts that provided figures for their crisis teams, 27 had seen their workload massively increase, “but without a comparable rise in funding”.

Not ‘either-or’ but ‘both’

Mental health stigma is of course very real, affecting the lives of people with mental health problems as well as those close to them. Research has shown that fear of being labelled and stigmatised affects people’s willingness to disclose their illness and seek treatment, so it is laudable that ignorance about the causes of mental ill health and treatment options are being discussed.

But the debate around awareness shouldn’t cover up the very serious problems mental health services face. It is all very well to tell people that it is okay to have a mental health problem and that they should seek the necessary treatment, but if the healthcare system isn’t functioning as it should, awareness campaigns ring hollow.

Public education on mental health problems, and on how to find help, needs to go hand-in-hand with making improvements to mental health services. While politicians speak about mental health awareness and the importance of seeking mental health treatment, further cuts to NHS mental health services are hanging over the fate of those afflicted by mental ill health.

Those in charge of the mental healthcare system should be held accountable and not be allowed to hide behind the sometimes nebulous awareness debate. People with mental health problems not only need public awareness and understanding, but a functioning mental health service.

 

Link to The Conversation article here 

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Mental health care crisis looming because trainee nurses are being driven away by bursary cuts, MPs warn

Specialist training programmes being closed down because of a lack of graduates.

 

The crisis in mental health services is likely to be made worse because of a collapse in trainee nurses following the Government’s decision to scrap bursaries for nursing students last year, MPs have warned.

In a report on the nursing workforce the Commons Health Select Committee said ministers must be prepared to “respond swiftly” if the policy, intended to allow more nurses to be trained, keeps driving down numbers.

The committee said it was particularly concerned that specialist courses in mental health, learning disabilities and community nursing have been rendered financially unviable because of a lack of applicants.

​Ucas data shows that applicants aged 21 to 25 dropped 13 per cent while those aged over 26 fell 6 per cent last year.

“This is of great concern, given that a significant proportion of trainee nurses are over the age of 25,” the report said.

“Of particular concern is the fact that mature students make up an even larger proportion of students in the shortage areas of mental health nursing and learning disability nursing.”

We have heard that some universities providing undergraduate courses in mental health and learning disability nursing have struggled to recruit sufficient students this year, threatening the financial viability of these courses.”

This includes London South Bank University, which did not run its learning disabilities course this year, and Sheffield Hallam which recruited just 70 per cent of its target.

Where are nurses most in demand?

Changes in nurse numbers in each sector since 2010:

General, elderly and adult nurses
+7% (11,983)

Children’s nurses
+10% (1,468)

Midwifery
+11% (2,056)

Community services
-11% (-4,985)

District nurses
-45% (-3,431)

School nurses
-19% (-554)

Learning disabilities settings
-38% (-2,023

Mental health settings
-13% (-5,168)

Source: Health Committee

These are also the areas that have suffered the biggest declines in nurse numbers in recent years, with an increase claimed by the Government happening almost exclusively in acute NHS hospitals.

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, said: “It is important to recognise that in the short term we are seeing increasing vacancy rates, more nurses leaving than joining the profession, and a sharp reduction in applicants to nursing degree places – particularly among the mature students who have traditionally been most attracted to mental health and whose wealth of life experience truly enriches the care they provide.

 He said it was also impacting on prospective students with caring responsibilities, from low income groups, and from black or minority ethnic backgrounds, which meant the workforce could become less representative of the community it serves.

The removal of the bursary was intended to usher in a nurse training boom in a hope of filling the 34,000 nurse and midwife vacancies in England.

Under the bursary, student places were limited at each university by the number of places the NHS could afford to fund, and applications have always outstripped availability.

But since 2017 prospective nurses are required to pay £9,000 a year fees or take out student loans for their training, and this resulted 700 fewer nurses starting training, according to Ucas figures.

This could be devastating as qualified nurses are leaving the NHS in droves after eight years of Government-enforced pay restraint and financial pressure in the NHS meaning many services are under significant strain.

NHS figures show 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year, meaning they are leaving faster than new entrants can replace them – a problem made worse by the collapse in EU nurses since the Brexit vote.

Nurses told the committee that the pressures were a risk to their safety, wellbeing, and  even their job.

In one interview reported by the committee, a nurse said “every time I walk onto the ward, my PIN (the professional registration number from the Nursing and Midwifery Council that nurses need to practise in the UK) is on the line.”

The Government earmarked more funding for a pay rise for nurses, and other NHS non-medical staff, but this is contingent on contract negotiations in which the Government is demanding even more “productivity gains”.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the loss of nurses and drought in the pipeline of the next generation, is a “double whammy”.

She said: “The report should make for sober reading inside Government. Ministers must stem the losses by easing the pressure in the NHS and social care, valuing staff with a pay rise above inflation and increasing training places.”

Ms Davies added that the RCN welcomed the recommendation “that the Government must now ‘be realistic’ in linking pay to supposed productivity gains”.

Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said: “The foolishness of abolishing the NHS bursary for healthcare students is laid bare in the report.

“The government needs to reverse this ill-thought-out decision, as well as provide proper funding for nursing apprenticeships, so that young people are encouraged to join the nursing profession.”

Labour Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “Labour shares the Committee’s concerns about removing the nursing bursaries and the Government’s on-going failure to guarantee the rights of EU healthcare staff.

“The truth is that the Prime Minister has overseen an unprecedented workforce crisis in our NHS, which has culminated in the number of nurses falling for the first time since 2013.”

 

 

Link to The Independent article here 

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