Mental health and mental illness have an impact on all of us, either directly or indirectly – whilst we can all benefit from having good mental health, 1 in 6 adults experienced a common mental health problem in the last week. People with more serious mental illness die 15-20 years earlier than the rest of the population and suicide is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34.
That is why PHE has made mental health one of its corporate priority areas in the new 5-year strategy published last month.
Our vision is to see measurable improvements in our nation’s mental health, improvements in the health and lives of people living with and recovering from mental illness and reduced rates of suicide. We’re now working on the detail of our vision and will publish our plans in February at our national Mental Health Summit.
All parts of PHE play a significant role in improving mental health and the lives of people living with mental illness.
Every Mind Matters
To help improve our nation’s mental health, we have launched Every Mind Matters – this is England’s first ever national NHS-endorsed mental health platform, which supports people to take action to look after their mental health and support others.
This ground-breaking new resource helps people to address concerns and early signs of mental health problems such as low mood, feeling stressed, feeling anxious, and having trouble sleeping – helping people to take early action or seek help where they need it.
Every Mind Matters builds on the great work from organisations and campaigns like Time to Change, Mental Health First Aid, Mind, Heads Together, Rethink and many others who have helped to challenge the stigma around mental illness and change the conversation, to get more people talking openly about their mental health. These have been advising on the approach and resource content for the last 18 months of development, to help people from all over the country take the step from awareness to action.
Through extensive piloting and testing we have developed “Your Mind Plan”, an interactive tool which allows people to create a set of simple, evidence-based actions to include in their daily lives. As well as evidence-based self-care tips, the platform also shows people where to go for support with wider challenges they may face – just like with our physical health, our mental health is affected by our life circumstances such as work, housing, access to education, debt, where we live and the choices we make.
The resource can also be built into workplace offers to support staff, and primary and secondary care services to support patients.
Core mental health areas
PHE’s current work on mental health spans three core delivery areas – promotion and prevention; suicide prevention; and improving lives of people living with and recovering from mental illness.
This includes the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health which marks the first time local and national government agencies have come together with organisations across the health and care sector, to make prevention a priority for mental health. The programme continues to grow, with over 140 organisations representing all sectors signed up and committed to action.
We also continue to drive forward work on suicide prevention – all local areas now have suicide prevention plans. We will shortly be publishing updated guidance on suicide prevention planning and action, as well as updated suicide clusters guidance to help local areas and agencies respond. We are also looking at how we can improve data profiles available to local areas.
We are taking forward our work on improving the health and lives of people living with mental illness – and tackling the unacceptable levels of health inequalities that people face. We are working with NHS England and the Centre for Mental Health on work to make real improvements to people’s lives. This includes improving access to screening services, smoking cessation and supporting the NHS in its prevention and mental health work to fulfil the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.
And finally, we are also demonstrating our commitment to better mental health within our own organisation for our 5,000 plus staff, which is why from today we are upgrading and improving our offer to our own workforce on mental health and wellbeing.
Good mental health is a goal for all of us. Many, but not all, mental health problems can be prevented and many more lives can be improved with the right focus on supporting those most in need – tackling these challenges is everyone’s business.
For more on mental health, read this edition of Health Matters on reducing health inequalities in mental illness.
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Contributor: Clare Perkins