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The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families staff contribute to Chief Medical Officer's report on public mental health

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families welcomes the Chief Medical Officer’s annual report “Public Mental Health Priorities: Investing in the Evidence”.

The report reviews evidence relating to the epidemiology of public mental health and the burden of mental health disorders in England. The main findings include:

  • 75% of people with a diagnosable mental illness get no treatment at all
  • There is a need for greater focus on mental health care for children and young people; half of all adult mental illness starts before the age of 15 and 75% by the age of 18
  • 70 million working days were lost to mental illness last year at a cost of £70 to £100 billion
  • The number of working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety has risen by 24% since 2009

Dame Sally Davies said: “Anyone with mental illness deserves good quality support at the right time. One of the stark issues highlighted in this report is that 60 to 70% of people with common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are in work, so it is crucial that we take action to help those people stay in employment to benefit their own health as well as the economy.”

She added: “My report has also shown that investment in support for children and young people can help to prevent a multitude of problems in later life. Underinvestment in mental health services, particularly for young people, simply does not make sense economically.”

Members of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families contributed chapters to the report:

  • Developmental psychopathology: a perspective by Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (Chapter 5)
  • Life course: children and young people’s mental health by Dr Miranda Wolpert, Director of the CAMHS Evidence-Based Practice Unit, and colleagues (Chapter 6)

The report, as Professor Peter Fonagy states, “Is an excellent comprehensive review of mental health across the lifespan; it is a real step on the way to ‘parity of esteem’ with physical health.”

Dame Sally Davies made a number of recommendations based on the evidence gathered, including:

  • Commissioning and prioritising evidence-based interventions
  • Planning services to integrate mental and physical health needs of populations
  • Developing an outcomes framework that recognises patient experience of integration
  • Putting in place arrangements for mental health data collection that are the same those in place for physical health
  • Routinely gathering information on employment as a routine part of patient records
  • There is a need to understand the cost benefit of providing access to psychiatric provision for people with mental illness who risk falling out of work.
  • There should be a period of specific mental health training in GP training
  • Developing a programme of work to agree waiting times and access standards across mental health services

Read the full report.