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Call for holistic approach to mental health

Mates in Mind

Mates in Mind welcomes developments to Britain’s mental health culture but is still striving to do better and make a change

LAST week Britain’s first Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, Mrs Doyle-Price, was appointed ready for World Mental Health Day 2018 (10 October), a move welcomed by mental health charity Mates in Mind as a significant step in prioritizing the nation’s mental well-being.

In recent years, a conversation about the importance of mental health and well-being has developed amongst the general public, and changes have also been witnessed within mental health trends. For example, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that the rate of suicide among men in the UK has now reached its lowest for more than 30 years, whilst the NHS has stated that 120,000 more people are getting specialist mental health treatment this year compared with just three years ago.

The appointment of Mrs Doyle-Price represents another major shift in attitudes towards mental health and well-being across the nation.

However, whilst there has been a marked change in the ways mental health is being tackled within the UK, it remains a significant challenge. Across the UK around one in four people still experience a mental health problem each year. In addition to this suicide remains the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK.

Within the construction industry this complex issue remains particularly prominent. In 2017 more than a third of construction workers surveyed had experienced a mental health condition in the last year. In the same year the ONS reported that the suicide rate among construction workers was more than three times higher than the national average for men in England and Wales.

Speaking at the 2018 Mad World Conference last week, Professor Sir Cary Cooper noted that, in this respect, employers should not offer ‘easy’ solutions such as ‘mindfulness at lunch’ in order to tackle the complex challenge mental health poses. He said it was important not to view one action as a solution to the issue in the same way that the appointment of Mrs Doyle-Price should not be viewed as a solution to the UK’s mental health difficulties.

In response to the recent ministerial appointment, Mates in Mind’s executive director, Josceylene Shaw, said: ‘Whilst there has certainly been a marked change in the way mental ill health is being seen across society, it still remains a sensitive and challenging issue for society, and employers.

‘Greater awareness of the prevalence and extent of the challenge is increasingly understood, but how this can be better managed and, more importantly, redressed is far more complex and will take concerted effort on many levels. Increasingly, employers are recognizing their role in this agenda as well, but we believe we are very much in the early stages of this journey. This ministerial appointment and the funding for Samaritans suggests that the Government accepts such a position.’

She added: ‘More has been done to promote World Suicide Day 2018 than ever before, and whilst the Government’s increasing commitments to prioritize the mental well-being of the nation are hugely commendable, we must continue to take holistic approaches to address mental health and well-being, ensuring good mental well-being becomes a fully integrated norm of life in the UK.’

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