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Last November, the RSA undertook a major research project focused on the quality and impact of mental health services at primary care level, where we found inconsistencies and worrying gaps in the way people with mental health diagnoses were being supported and the quality of the services they received. Today we mark World Mental Health Day with an exclusive interview with Jonny Benjamin, mental health campaigner, focusing on what’s next for the mental health campaign.

Mental Health Matters from The RSA on Vimeo.

Watch the event Mental Health Matters (1.30pm BST, 13th October) 

We are at a critical juncture in the campaign for parity of esteem of mental and physical health, where the policy pragmatism of the NHS needs to match recent government rhetoric, and the sentiments laid out in the Mental Health Taskforce, chaired by Sir Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind.

Indeed, the RSA’s research last year found that not only were drop-out rates for IAPT services (NHS-funded talking therapies) as high as 90% in some areas, it also found that the degree to which primary care services are meeting the physical health needs of people with mental health illness fails, in many parts of the country, when put under scrutiny.

The RSA found that GP services are under-testing physical illnesses for those with mental health conditions and that 1 in 4 areas in England have worryingly high rates of premature death for people with mental health conditions. We also highlighted local authority areas that were underperforming in enabling people with long term health conditions access to stable accommodation – highlighting that the mental health system both exacerbates and is fuelled by our current housing crisis.

Since then, the latest focus for mental health campaigners has been young people and adolescents. Indeed Jonny Benjamin outlines in our exclusive RSA interview that 75% of mental illness originates in adolescence. Effective education, online support and early intervention is key to ensuring the next generation can effectively navigate the new insecurities in the world – at work and in terms of personal identity – that are compounding increased levels of anxiety and depression.

Concerns have heightened recently, following recent NHS research which has unveiled a new gender gap in health. It has emerged that 12.6% of women aged 16-24 screen positive for post-traumatic stress disorder, 19.7% self-harm and 28.2% have mental health condition, which will be a key focus to our public event with Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of Young Minds, Lord Victor Adebowale and Jonny Benjamin at our landmark public event this Thursday.

Together, these public health challenges are not only the concern of the NHS, but local and regional authorities - as further devolution of health services, including mental health, are in the pipeline. How young people are involved in shaping those services will remain a key yardstick for success, if areas we’ve highlighted in our work are to measure up to the challenge of supporting the next generation’s mental health.

Watch the event Mental Health Matters (1.30pm BST, 13th October) 

Read our report RSA OPSN Mental Health Report

Follow #RSAHealth @_Tom_Harrison


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