Mental health in an unequal world
10 October, 2021
This year, the theme of World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health in an unequal world’.
In the UK we know of the difficulties in accessing mental health care but in some other parts of the world these challenges are much greater. Globally there is a lack of investment in mental health when compared to the overall health budget, and mental health is still wrongly seen as less important than physical health.
During my time as President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists I became aware of the huge importance of public education around mental health. In the UK alone half of adults struggle to understand health information produced for the public, making the provision of clear, accurate information for patients and carers vital for promoting health equality.
Slightly to my surprise I learnt that the patient information resource pages are the most visited part of the College’s website.
So far in 2021 there have been over four million views of our information from 235 different countries and territories, including Christmas Island, a place I would love to visit. Our resources have even been translated - over 300 times into 24 languages, from Arabic to Welsh. The most popular is the Persian translation of our information on bipolar disorder, which has been viewed over half a million times.
The Public Engagement Editorial Board (PEEB) at the College has responsibility for these resources, and when the opportunity to chair the Board came up, I seized the chance and applied. I started a few months ago and inherited a fantastic set of information resources which have been put together over the years, led by Phil Timms, a psychiatrist based in London.
We are now reviewing all the information and working out where the gaps are. Much of this work involves updating our resources where necessary, as things are moving fast and we need to be sure that patients and carers are provided with the latest advice.
We believe that knowledge empowers patients and allows them to be fully involved in planning their care. Patients and carers have always been part of the production of these resources but we are introducing a new co-production model where they will be a central part of developing the information resource from the start.
The clinical part of the resource comes from College members, experts in their field who volunteer their time to do this valuable work. Our ambition is to be the world-leader in accessible, up-to-date, evidence-based information for mental health conditions, and with the help of members, patients and carers we hope to make this dream a reality.
Wherever in the world you are I wish you a happy and healthy World Mental Health Day.