In April 2022, the UK Government launched a call for evidence, designed to inform a new 10-year mental health plan, with a focus on improving mental health across the UK.
The call for evidence will be open for 12 weeks, and closes on Tuesday, July 5th 2022, so there is still time to submit a response if you wish. You can view the discussion paper and submit a response here.
The call for evidence aims to gather information from people of any age with lived experience of mental health diagnoses, and those who support individuals with these diagnoses.
People working or volunteering in the health and social care industry, or in industries where they interact with and support individuals with mental health diagnoses (for example education – schools, colleges, and universities) are also encouraged to share their views, as well as experts and academics working within the field of mental health.
The general public are also welcome to respond, as the call for evidence seeks to gather views of as many people from as many different backgrounds and areas of life as possible to inform the updated plan for improving mental health across the country.
This plan will build on the NHS Long Term Plan launched in 2019, created by front-line staff, patient groups and national experts.
In addition to this, the Government is looking to update the national suicide prevention plan, and is hoping to learn people’s views on the current service and how it can be improved.
This is particularly important after the experiences of many people throughout the last couple of years, with the coronavirus pandemic having a big influence on everyone not just across the UK, but across the world.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a big influence on everyone across the globe, causing a rise in the prevalence of poor mental health, as evidenced in multiple studies.
Research conducted by Mind in 2021 found that around a third of adults and young people said that their mental health had gotten worse since March 2020, while 1 in 5 adults admitted they did not seek support throughout the pandemic as they did not think their problem was serious enough.
A paper by James Banks and Xiaowei Xu published in June 2020 looked at the mental health effects of the first two months of lockdown in the UK. Their findings found that mental health in the UK on average worsened by 8.1%.
More recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also revealed in its scientific brief published on the 2nd March 2022 that the prevalence of depression and anxiety has risen throughout the course of the pandemic.
The brief summarises findings from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study conducted in 2020. The GBD study estimated that the coronavirus pandemic caused a 27.6% increase in major depressive disorder, and an estimated 25.6% increase in anxiety disorders worldwide.
With this in mind, it is more important than ever that we focus on eliminating mental health inequality and work towards improving mental health for everyone across the UK.
To date, the Government has committed to improving mental health by transforming mental health services and expanding the provision to better meet the demand through the NHS Long Term Plan.
The Government has also committed £500 million to support the most impacted demographics – this includes children and young people, and individuals with severe mental health diagnoses.
The call for evidence is the next step to work towards improving mental health across the UK, with the data collected being used to build on the current progress and develop a long-term plan for the future.
The aims of this plan, as described by the Government, are, “…to prevent and mitigate the impacts of risk factors on mental health and suicide, particularly for groups who experience disparities.”
Alongside the call for evidence, the Government released a discussion paper which highlights 6 key focus areas:
These topics form the basis of the call for evidence, and are designed to evoke a broad range of responses. This in turn should allow the 10-year mental health plan dedicated to improving mental health to be as comprehensive as possible.
Once the closing date for responses has passed, the data collected will be reviewed and analysed. We look forward to the release of the new 10-year mental health plan, with the hope that the aims, provisions, and targets set out within it are ambitious but achievable, and are enough to continue improving mental health services to bring them up to the standard that everyone across the UK needs and deserves.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.