Mental health is our ”defining challenge” says Hancock

On World Mental Health Day 2018, health secretary Matt Hancock described mental health as the “defining challenge of our age” and acknowledged the issue has not been adequately resourced to date as he pledged £30m in additional funding for mental health research. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it "looks forward to engaging further with the Government" on how pharmacists can help detect and treat mental health conditions.

Mr Hancock said in a speech at the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit that the Government was committed to “achieving equality between mental and physical health,” which he said would require a shift in mindset among both politicians and members of the public.

One in 10 children are living with a mental health condition, Mr Hancock said, adding that many of them “will go on to develop serious mental health problems as adults unless they get the support they need”.

To help the health service provide better support for people with mental health problems, the Government will put an additional £30m into global mental health research through the UK’s National Institute of Health Research, Mr Hancock said.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the issue has been under-resourced for too long: “The truth is that for an awfully long time, mental health has simply not had the same level of support – both in terms of resources, but also in terms of how we as a society talk about it – compared to physical health, and we want to change that.”

RPS: Pharmacists should play a key role

RPS England board chair Sandra Gidley said that as the "third largest health profession, pharmacists should be invited to play a "key role" in delivering the Government's mental health agenda.

Ms Gidley commented: “We still have some way to go to reduce the health inequalities experienced by people with mental health problems, and our report, No Health without Mental Health, talks about how pharmacists can help.

“Whether it is supporting earlier detection, helping people to manage long-term conditions, or providing expert medicines advice to colleagues across care settings, as the third largest health profession, pharmacists should play a key role in supporting the Government’s aim to increase the NHS’ mental health workforce.

“We look forward to engaging further with the Government on how pharmacists can help deliver this aspiration.”

Minister for suicide prevention appointed

Mr Hancock’s speech came on the same day it was announced that health minister Jackie Doyle-Price would be appointed minister for suicide prevention

Ms Doyle Price, whose new title will be minister for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention, said: “I understand how tragic, devastating and long-lasting the effect of suicide can be on families and communities. In my time as health minister I have met many people who have been bereaved by suicide and their stories of pain and loss will stay with me for a long time.

“It’s these people who need to be at the heart of what we do and I welcome this opportunity to work closely with them, as well as experts, to oversee a cross-government suicide prevention plan, making sure their views are always heard.”

Prime minister Theresa May commented: “We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives. And we can give the mental wellbeing of our children the priority it so profoundly deserves.”


Help is available

If you or someone you know is living with mental health issues, remember that support is available:

  • The Samaritans are open 24 hours a day and can be reached by calling 116 123 or emailing jo@samaritans.org
  • Pharmacists struggling with difficulties in the workplace or in their personal lives may find it helpful to call the Pharmacist Support helpline on 0808 168 5133 or email the charity at listeningfriends@pharmacistsupport.org

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