Clegg: Mental health research ‘needs boost’

  • Posted

Posted 11/08/2014

Julie Crossley 1397333021_JulieCrossleyCPX.jpg

A major push is needed to boost mental health research, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has told the BBC. The Deputy Prime Minister said his party’s next election manifesto would include a pledge to raise annual research spending in England by £50m by 2020.

Mr Clegg said the sector needed a breakthrough “comparable to penicillin”.

Mr Clegg said: “My ambition is that we should understand mental health just as well as we understand physical health. “I want us to be able to talk about, analyse and treat depression just as we treat diabetes. “For far too long mental health has been a bit of a taboo subject – yet it affects one in four people in this country.”

Mental health charities have long argued that the issue lacks the profile of other diseases and conditions.

According to an analysis published in the British Medical Journal, mental health accounted for 23% of the UK’s “disease burden” (the burden on society of all diseases and health conditions) but received only 6% of total medical research funding.

Cancer, by contrast, accounted for 15% of the disease burden but received 27% of research funding.

It is estimated that annual mental health research spending is £74m, most of which is through government agencies rather than charities or other organisations. Mr Clegg’s pledge is that this would be boosted by £50m annually by 2020, the final year of the next parliament.

“It is yet another area in which people with mental health problems are expected to put up with second best.” Experts in the field argue that antipsychotic medications for people with schizophrenia and psychosis have barely changed over the last few decades and create often debilitating physical side-effects. Many psychiatrists have called for more work on alternative therapies and treatments. And there is concern that patients are  ‘Shunted around the country’ because of a shortage of beds and treatment.

Julie Crossley a Medical Injury Lawyer at Ashtons Legal comments “Within the CN Department we have seen a huge increase in mental health cases, in particular where patients are discharged without treatment or too early and then proceeded to take their own lives and we have seen Units close and are aware that there is a huge shortage of beds and fundingso something has to change”


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