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

Public Mental Health 

Introduction to the Network from Dr Peter Byrne, Associate Registrar for Public Mental Health

Solutions to close the gap


Associate Registrar for Public Mental Health: Dr Peter ByrneThese are difficult times for Psychiatry and it is tempting to circle the wagons, anticipating further attacks on core mental health services.


Short termism, in our paymasters or in us, ignores the major public health opportunities for our patients. It is a national scandal that people with severe mental illness (SMI) lose 10 - 25 years of their life expectancy, AND that we have plenty of solutions to close this gap.


Smoking cessation programmes, early intervention to improve lifestyles / address physical ill health, and alcohol prevention strategies - that have minimum alcohol pricing at their core - will each impact on these stolen years for people with SMI.


Evidence-based prevention and promotion


Public mental health (PMH) is not just something around nebulous concepts such as wellbeing, happiness index or social capital. It is the application of Psychiatry and the social sciences to establish evidence-based prevention and promotion. There is an appetite amongst the public, and even in Government, for cost effective early intervention: parenting skills for people with SMI, further integration of mental health into the school curricula, vocational and workplace interventions, multilevel suicide prevention, psychosocial interventions in people with dementia, and much more. Learning from effective measures that reduce stigma-discrimination, PMH efforts will be "focal and local".


My role as PMH Lead builds on the innovative work of Kam Bhui, Jonathan Campion and others to bring "no health without public mental health" to local commissioners and national policy makers. I will work within and outside the College to pursue this agenda.



If you would like any further information regarding the Network, please contact Helen Phillips.



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