Find out more about public mental health and the College's work in this area. Access the College's public mental health publications and resources from other organisations.
Key elements of public mental health include:
- Population approach: To sustainably and equitably improve the level and distribution of mental ill-health and wellbeing in society
- Addresses the implementation gap: Supports improved implementation of effective interventions to treat mental disorders, prevent associated impacts, prevent mental disorder, and promote mental wellbeing and resilience.
- Targets inequalities and higher risk groups: Takes targeted approaches to prevent widening of inequalities for groups at increased risk of mental disorder, poor mental wellbeing and/or reduced access to interventions.
- Coordinated approaches: Recognises the need for coordinated and intersectoral approaches between providers of different types of interventions including social, educational, workplace, health, economic and policy.
- Involvement of people and organisations: Involves people with experience of mental disorder and their carers, communities, providers, commissioners, policymakers and organisations (public, non-profit and for-profit institutions) in the development and implementation of evidence-based public mental health interventions.
The College has undertaken a number of public mental health activities over the last 10 years.
From 2014, RCPsych approached rising premature mortality of people with serious mental illness (SMI) by:
- building key partnerships to change policy
- raising awareness among psychiatrists, with parallel work to incorporate evidence into health professionals’ curricula.
This led to the following:
- Collaboration with ASH (Action on Smoking for Health) and 27 other partners in The Stolen Years report. Our mental health and smoking partnership continues, with a consensus request to raise the legal age of purchase to 21.
- A College report on prescribing vaping and varenicline to people with serious mental illness who smoke.
- Membership of key NHS and public health groups to reduce smoking rates with multilevel intervention: staff training, electronic referrals, liberal vaping policies and changing CQC priorities curricula.
- RCPsych advocating for minimum unit pricing for alcohol, as implemented in Scotland and Ireland; this was consistently raised with Public Health England over the past decade.
- RCPsych joined the Obesity Health Alliance to successfully lobby the UK government for a sugary drinks tax and a ban on junk food advertising pre-watershed. This advocacy is balanced by working closely with the Eating Disorders Faculty to reduce unintended harms.
- Ongoing work with Equally Well UK to promote healthy weight management – not least obesogenic prescribing within obesogenic environments.
- Working with the Liaison Faculty to identify ‘postcode prescribing’ in treatments offered to patients with serious mental illness who become obese: we identified inequalities in the pathways to obesity and the treatments offered (medications/bariatric surgery).
- Identifying the main driver of premature deaths in people with mental disorders as poverty-inequality in a special edition of BJPsych Bulletin in October 2020. Articles on smoking, homelessness, benefits and so on are open access.
- Grant applications to identify implementable interventions with national research coalition, Closing the Gap.
- Working for curriculum changes at medical school and postgraduate level to improve the content on nutrition within a personalised medicine framework.
- Royal College of Psychiatrists Position Statement (2010) No health without public mental health: The case for action.
- Campion J, Bhui K, Bhugra D (2012) European Psychiatric Association (EPA) guidance on prevention of mental disorders. European Psychiatry 27:68-80.
- Campion J, Bhugra D, Bailey S, Marmot M (2013) Inequality and mental disorder: opportunities for action. The Lancet 382:183-184.
- Campion J, Fitch C (2015) Guidance for commissioning public mental health services: Practical mental health commissioning (update of 2013 version). Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health.
- Campion J, Coombes C, Bhaduri N (2017) Mental health coverage in needs assessments and associated opportunities. Journal of Public Health. 39(4):813-820.
- Campion J (2018) Public mental health. In Handbook of Primary Care Mental Health, 2nd Edition (eds L Gask, T Kendrick, R Peveler, C Chew-Graham). Royal College of General Practitioners and Royal College of Psychiatrists.
- Campion J (2018) Public mental health: Key challenges and opportunities. British Journal of Psychiatry International 15(3):51-54.
- Campion J (2019) Public mental health: Evidence, practice and commissioning. Royal Society for Public Health
- Campion J, Javed A, Sartorius N, Marmot M (2020)Addressing the public mental health challenge of COVID-19. Lancet Psychiatry 7(8):P657-659.
- Campion J, Javed A, Marmot M, Valsraj K (2020) The need for a public mental health approach to COVID-19. World Social Psychiatry 2:77-83.
- Campion J, Javed A, Vaishnav M, Marmot M. Public mental health and associated opportunities. Indian journal of psychiatry. 2020 Jan;62(1):3.
- Byrne P, James A (2020) Placing poverty-inequality at the centre of psychiatry. BJPsych Bulletin 44(5):187-190.
- Duncan F, Baskin C, McGrath M, Coker JF, Lee C, Dykxhoorn J, et al. (2021) Community interventions for improving adult mental health: mapping local policy and practice in England. BMC Public Health 21:1691.
- Campion J, Javed A, Lund C, Sartorius N, Saxena S, Marmot M, et al. (2022) Public mental health: required actions to address implementation failure in the context of COVID-19. Lancet Psychiatry 9:169-182.
- Campion J, Javed A, Saxena S, Sharan P. Public mental health: An opportunity to address implementation failure. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2022 Mar;64(2):113.
Smoking is the single largest cause of preventable death in the UK. People with mental disorder smoke at much higher rates and therefore experience disproportionate smoking related harm. These publications include guidance to support smoking cessation in those with mental disorder. Primary care and pharmacy guidance are currently being updated.
- Royal College of Physicians & Royal College of Psychiatrists (2013) Smoking and mental health.
- Royal College of General Practitioners & Royal College of Psychiatrists (2014) Primary care guidance on smoking and mental disorders – 2014 update..
- Royal College of Psychiatrists, National Pharmacy Association & Royal Pharmaceutical Society (2017) Pharmacy guidance on smoking and mental disorder.
- Collaboration with ASH (Action on Smoking for Health) and 27 other partners in The Stolen Years report (2016)
- Royal College of Psychiatrists (2018) The prescribing of varenicline and vaping (electronic cigarettes) to patients with severe mental illness.
Public mental health training resources
Other organisations have carried out excellent work in public mental health over the years, and we encourage you to visit their websites for more information.
- The Association of Directors of Public Health
- Centre for Mental Health
- Equally Well
- Faculty of Public Health
- Institute of Health Equity
- Mental Health Foundation
- NIHR School for Public Health Research Public Mental Health Programme's The Conceptual Framework for Public Mental Health tool
- Royal College of Nursing
- Royal Society for Public Health
- United Nations:
- World Health Organization:
- Mental disorders (web page)
- Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030 (report, 2021)
- Mental Health Atlas 2020 (report, 2021)
- World Mental Health report: Transforming mental health for all (report 2022)
- Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP)
- The Pan-European Mental Health Coalition (web page)
- WHO European Framework for Action on Mental Health 2021–2025 (report, 2022)
- On COVID-19:
- Mental health impacts of COVID-19 across the European Region and associated opportunities for action – briefing (report, 2022)
- Action required to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and service delivery systems in the WHO European Region: recommendations from the European Technical Advisory Group on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 (report, 2021)
- World Psychiatric Association: Public Mental Health
- Campion J (2020) Public mental health briefing on COVID-19. Geneva: World Psychiatric Association
- Campion J, Javed A. WPA Working Group on Public Mental Health: objectives and recommended actions. World Psychiatry. 2022 Jun;21(2):330