Peter Fonagy appointed to expert panel on mental health

11th August 2021  |  By: Michelle Cunliffe

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, has been appointed to be on the Health and Social Care Committee’s Expert Panel to evaluate the Government’s pledges on mental health.

The Health and Social Care Committee has commissioned its Expert Panel to evaluate the Government’s progress against its pledges to improve mental health services in England. They have invited Peter Fonagy and three other leading mental health specialists to play a key role in evaluating and shaping the country’s mental health policy. The Expert Panel is chaired by Professor Dame Jane Dacre, and is comprised of core members and subject specialists.

Peter Fonagy is Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre and Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL. The Anna Freud Centre, the UK’s leading evidence-based children’s mental health charity, has the aim to transform current mental health provision in the UK with every child, and their family, at the heart of the care they receive working in partnership with professionals.

Peter Fonagy’s research on early development and developmental psychopathology has demonstrated that secure parent-infant attachment facilitates children’s development of the ability to understand their own and others’ thoughts, feelings and wishes (mentalization), which in turn influences personality development and mental health. These findings have influenced social policy on early childcare, adoption and fostering. With Anthony Bateman, Peter has developed and evaluated mentalization based treatment (MBT), which both in the UK and worldwide is transforming clinical work with patients with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder who were once seen as ‘untreatable’.

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, said: “Mental health disorders are a leading cause of disability in the UK. The focus of the Health and Social Care Select Committee on successive governments' performance in this area is most welcome, both to celebrate undoubted successes and to draw attention to areas where further investment and effort may be needed. Approaching this question in a scientific way, based on clinical and research evidence, is also to be greatly welcomed as a significant step towards evidence based policy making.”

The Health and Social Care Committee published the Expert Panel’s first evaluation on 6 July 2021 which rated the Government’s overall progress in achieving four key commitments on maternity services as ‘inadequate’. The Panel will now evaluate the Government’s progress on mental health pledges.

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