The 10th October each year marks World Mental Health Day: a day in which awareness of mental health issues and well-being is raised globally.
Charities, health services, organisations, public figures, politicians, and individuals participated in the annual event in numerous ways. Here is a round-up of some of the most significant news stories of the day:
'Minister for Suicide Prevention' role created by Theresa May
In a UK first, the Prime Minister has adapted the role held by Jackie Doyle-Price - who previously served under the title Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities - to focus on suicide prevention.
The role will operate on both a national and local level to identify those at risk of suicide to ensure that both appropriate prevention and treatment plans are in place. Expert clinicians, charities, and local governments 'will unite', bringing together a taskforce to address the 4,500 deaths a year that Health Secretary Matt Hancock calls "preventable".
Doyle-Price's appointment is not without controversy; in 2014, she claimed she "would sooner jump off Beachy Head than join UKIP" . Beachy Head is a notorious suicide spot, with approximately twenty people taking their own lives there each year. In light of Doyle-Price's new role, this figure of speech seems inappropriate and insensitive.
"I understand how tragic, devastating and long-lasting the effect of suicide can be on families and communities", says Doyle-Price. "Their stories of pain and loss will stay with me for a long time".
Despite having been decriminalised in England since 1961, suicide often remains unspoken about.
Controversy aside, the creation of this role is important both symbolically as well as practically: a move towards a society in which mental health problems are destigmatised. In the future, perhaps mental health provisions will improve so that a Minister for Suicide Prevention isn't needed.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care pledges to prioritise mental health services
Matt Hancock, addressing attendees at a Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London, shared plans to improve mental health research, services, and awareness.
"This summit, today’s declaration and our commitment to achieving equality between mental and physical health is a bold, ambitious statement of intent", said Hancock. Acknowledging the reality that poor NHS services may worsen a service user's condition, he reiterated the importance of providing the most appropriate support for each individual.
Hancock shared plans for the NHS to increase its mental health workforce by 21,000 people, with the goal of expanding mental health provisions to more than a million people by 2021. A further £30 million shall be channeled into global mental health research.
In the summit, Hancock drew attention to how important politicians' attitudes towards mental health are in facilitating a positive change: from a public to global scale. 'Every Mind Matters' is a new initiative by Public Health England that aspires to decrease the parity of attention paid between mental health and physical health, encouraging individuals to be proactive in managing the former.
Mental Health Data Hub released by NHS Digital: a tool to find official figures about mental health services
Launched to mark World Mental Health Day 2018, the online hub enables service users, healthcare workers, carers, charities, and researchers to find information about mental health services.
The tool allows users to see who uses NHS-funded secondary mental health, learning disabilities and autism services in England through graphs and charts. Statistics can be filtered by specific NHS foundation trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and geographical locations.
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The hub's purpose is to make information about NHS health and social care accessible and interactive.
After the success of the GP Data Hub that was brought into fruition last year, the Mental Health Data Hub is still in its early stages. Ramesh Notra, Principal Information Analyst in Community and Mental Health at NHS Digital, said "We hope mental health professionals, patients, carers and researchers find the hub useful and we would urge them to let us know what they think via the link on the homepage. We are keen to ensure it meets the needs of users, so we really value feedback and will continue to make improvements in response."
Local NHS Trust highlights the importance of listening to service users when improving provisions for young people
The Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust has launched a new initiative to support young people's mental health. Providing child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across Hull and the East Riding, the Trust is centering the voices of adolescents in order to improve the quality of services.
"The key to changing services is with the young people themselves; no one understands what they need better than they do", says Clinical Lead for the Trust’s CAMHS Inpatient Service, Paul Warwick.
A new inpatient unit will be opening in Hull by early next autumn, equipped with a specially designed school, gym, sensory room, and a range of both indoor and outdoor spaces. The bespoke care that the unit will deliver is expected to decrease the length of inpatient stays and lead to better outcomes for its users.
Another initiative by the Trust called the Social Mediation and Self-Help (SMASH) service strives to equip young people with emotional and behavioural self-management skills. The Trust's progressive approach to bettering the mental health of adolescents has seen them nominated for prestigious awards.
The Programme Manager of SMASH, Emma Train-Sullivan, said: "My ambition is for our service to give every child the opportunity to build their emotional resilience and positive mental well-being so they can experience a sense of belonging and embrace life’s opportunities."
New strategy to promote positive mental health within the Olympics and Paralympics is unveiled
The UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport have created measures to facilitate an environment that is conducive to good mental health across the Olympic and Paralympic sports system.
Developed by a Mental Health Steering Group with input from mental health charity Mind, the scheme builds upon the existing support network of both in-house and external support. A mental health screening process will see National Governing Bodies monitoring and supporting athletes, coaches, senior leaders practitioners, and administrators.
The Mental Health Strategy is comprised of four pillars: education, provision, communication, and assurance. It aims to enhance self-awareness around how to spot potential mental health issues, giving its users support from induction through to transition out of the high performance system. Through the means of campaigns, the strategy will facilitate conversations surrounding mental health in order to decrease stigma. Annual assurance will monitor the strategy, using feedback to identify scope for improvement to ensure parity of service with physical health.
“In both sport and society", said UK Sport Chair Dame Katherine Grainger, "it is vital that we work towards creating the most positive mental health environment whenever possible."
NHS increases funding to support doctors with their mental health
Simon Stevens, NHS Chief, announced at the start of the week that more funding will go into supporting doctors with their mental health, reaching approximately 110,000 more doctors in addition to those already supported.
The existing support in place for GPs was launched in early 2017, with over 75% of the 1,500 who have been treated being able to return to work. Whilst this service has been a success, support for doctors working in hospitals has been delegated to local NHS Trusts or Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Dr Clare Gerada, medical director of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, and former chair of the Royal College of GPs, says that "the last taboo in the NHS is the acknowledgement that doctors also have mental health problems". This scheme seeks to break this taboo; it is in the interest of both the doctors and their patients.