New PMHIC report on public mental health interventions

Mental disorder accounts for at least 21% of the UK disease burden. Effective interventions exist to prevent mental disorder from arising but are underutilised.

Public mental health is a population approach to mental health to prevent mental disorder from arising, prevent the associated impacts and inequalities, promote mental wellbeing and resilience, and support the delivery of effective interventions to treat mental disorder.

The Public Mental Health Implementation Centre (PMHIC) has produced a report summarising the evidence on public mental interventions. This report highlights the most strongly evidenced interventions to prevent mental disorder and its associated impacts, and is now available in our PMHIC section.

The report includes evidence on public mental health interventions across the following areas: pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence; interventions to reduce mental health inequalities for people in marginalised groups; and interventions to prevent mental disorder, and the loss of healthy years and premature death. Each intervention area was assigned a rating based on the strength of the evidence base.

This review identified seven intervention areas with the strongest evidence base:

  1. Interventions during pregnancy and immediately after birth to prevent child mental disorder
  2. Interventions to prevent and treat parental mental disorder and parental drug/alcohol misuse
  3. Parenting programmes which prevent child mental disorder, substance use, antisocial behaviours and unintentional injury and improve child behavioural outcomes, parenting, and parental mental health
  4. Home visiting and parenting programmes to improve child-parent attachment and prevent child adversity
  5. School-based interventions to prevent mental disorder and alcohol/tobacco/drug use, reduce child adversity, promote mental wellbeing and resilience, and improve social-emotional skills
  6. Workplace-based interventions to reduce employee mental disorder, increase wellbeing and promote recovery from mental disorder
  7. Interventions to reduce smoking, alcohol, drug use, physical inactivity, COVID-19 infection and promote appropriate care of physical health conditions, including among people with mental disorder.

We identified two priority intervention areas, with high public health relevance but a more limited evidence base:

  1. Interventions to address socioeconomic inequalities to improve outcomes among marginalised groups
  2. Approaches to target marginalised and higher risk groups to improve access to public mental health interventions.

The report is intended to be a resource for those interested in learning more about the current evidence on public mental health interventions and promotes a public health approach to reducing the incidence and impacts of mental disorder.

Building on this report, the work of the PMHIC is to improve implementation of evidence-based public mental health interventions.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry