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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Birmingham launches new commission on young people's mental health prevention

Written by The Editorial Team

The Rt Hon Paul Burstow, former Minister of State for Care Services and Professor of Mental Health Policy at the University of Birmingham, is to chair a new Birmingham Policy Commission focusing on mental health promotion and illness prevention across society.

The Commission will have a particular focus on children and young people making recommendations on building resilience and early interventions in schools. It will also focus on reducing stigma and identify approaches to reducing the number of people experiencing mental distress.

Professor Burstow (pictured) said: "I am delighted to be leading this work. Currently only 1 in 3 people with a diagnosable mental health condition get any help. The personal and societal costs are huge.

"The estimated cost is £105bn in England alone. Poorly treated and undiagnosed mental illness which co-occurs with a physical long term condition is a significant accelerant of health care costs. I hope the work will contribute to policy making and thinking in government and across parties."

call for evidence

The Commission has also launched a call for evidence. It will seek evidence from across the four home nations and internationally, taking into account the views of service users, families, communities, practitioners and policy makers.

Questions for commissioners will include, can mental distress and mental illness be tackled simply by improving access to treatment?  Is it possible to scale up treatment to meet growing need? What needs to happen to prevent mental distress and how can we approach this differently? 

Prof Burstow said: "By working with policy makers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Commission will seek support to implement its recommendations and this will provide a strategic framework for mental health for the 21st Century."

Recommendations will be made in spring 2018 on how mental health and wellbeing can be improved across the population and promote individual and community resilience.

Financial impact of mental health

This follows a recent Birmingham study lead by Karen Newbigging, Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Policy and Management from the University, which has estimated the financial impact of poor mental health on the West Midlands region to be over £12 billion per year. This includes nearly £2 billion a year as a direct cost to the NHS – equivalent to more than £3000 for every person living in the area.

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