A conference that took place in the North East attracted local speakers and a host of national experts to address some of the key issues surrounding mental health.
The 2018 Academic Health Science Network North East and North Cumbria’s Mental Health Summit saw almost 150 healthcare professionals from across the region gather to discuss how to best drive innovation, share best practice and address the challenges and solutions to improve outcomes.
It comes at a time when one in four adults experience at least one diagnosable mental-health problem in any given year.
Keynote speakers included Claire Murdoch, national mental-health director for NHS England, Steve Baker, force lead for mental health at Northumbria Police, and Norman Lamb MP, who has campaigned tirelessly in the interests of improvement.
Mr Lamb underlined the need to drive up the standards in UK mental health services, saying: “Mental-health issues affect people from all walks of life and in so many different ways.
“Our experiences as a family have made me even more determined to raise awareness of the issues and campaign for greater investment and better support for people who have a mental illness.
“Much more needs to be done to ensure that people suffering from mental-health problems are given the same level of treatment as people suffering from other illnesses. It’s not right that we’re seeing many people with mental-health conditions dying prematurely.
“Across the board, there are many people in our communities living in distress and it’s vital that the resource we have available is put to best use, to better help those people and improve outcomes for anyone suffering.”
Providing a national perspective, Ms Murdoch discussed the five-year plan for mental health, underlining the key priorities for the NHS and gave insight into successful models of care taking place throughout the UK.
Claire said: “Progress is being made in areas such as our mental-health workforce, but we all have a duty to collectively pool our skills and our talent to in order to reach our 2021 targets.
“We are particularly worried about certain sections of society, for example young men, where rates of suicide are higher. By introducing more Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programmes, we hope to reduce suicide rates by 10 per cent by 2021.”
The summit is the result of a collaboration between the Academic Health Science Network North East and North Cumbria, the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership North East and North Cumbria Mental Health Programme, NHS England Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network and Public Health England North East.
The senior clinicians from Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust were all also present at the event to discuss the priorities for the North East and North Cumbria from a clinical perspective.