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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

RCPsych and Rethink voice major concerns over Department of Health’s new Public Health Outcomes Framework

Embargoed until 31 March 2011

As the consultation on the Department of Health’s new Public Health Outcomes Framework closes today, The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the charity Rethink Mental Illness have highlighted what they believe to be glaring omissions in relation to mental health.

The new framework sets out how public health outcomes will be monitored in future replacing the system of targets used by the Labour government.

Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are worried that the proposals as they stand, will not measure how well local authorities are doing in terms of tackling mental health stigma or improving the resilience of young people at risk of mental health problems.

This undermines the government’s own Mental Health Strategy, launched earlier this year, which has reducing mental health stigma and discrimination as one of its six central objectives.

Rethink Mental Illness CEO Paul Jenkins said: "Having no indicator around stigma and discrimination is a glaring omission, especially considering that the government named it as one of their top priorities in the Mental Health Strategy. It’s no use setting out a strategy, and then failing to require local authorities to meet the objectives. This lack of any official outcome could seriously undermine the effectiveness of public health campaigns aimed at changing public attitudes.

"Fear of stigma and discrimination are the major barriers to people seeking help for mental health problems at an early stage. Getting the right help early is a key factor in preventing people’s mental health problems becoming more serious."

Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are also concerned that there are no outcomes identified for building resilience among young people at risk of developing or worsening mental illness.  "Early work with young people is essential.  We are very concerned that while the Framework includes targets on work, employment, substance misuse and suicide rates, there is nothing for young people’s mental health," said Jenkins.

Rethink Mental Illness is however pleased that the Framework includes  outcomes for monitoring and measuring early deaths among people with mental illness from physical health problems.

Professor Kam Bhui, the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ lead on public health, said: "While we welcome the governments renewed focus on outcomes we are concerned that the proposed framework gives far too little attention to mental health and psychological determinants of health-risk behaviours and healthy lifestyles.

"This is a major oversight given that mental state, psychological well-being and psychological make-up, transmitted from parents through parenting styles, are all important in preventing future ill-health and for promoting resilience. Only if this issue is adequately addressed – and if sufficient resources are provided to fund these proposals – do we believe the framework and overall strategy could be effective."

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896


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