Call for new investment
in mental health research

Last night (Wednesday 14 October) a group of leading scientists and public figures, including Stephen Fry and Alastair Campbell, were in Downing Street to call for a big new investment in mental health research. Of the £700m spent by the Medical Research Council each year, less than £75m goes on mental health. With mental health problems affecting 1 in 4 people during the course of a year and more than 5000 suicides annually the current sum is paltry and it’s no wonder mental health diagnosis and treatment remains relatively poorly understood. The Research Mental Health initiative is calling for £200m a year for research.

Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Our understanding of mental illness is moving at a snail’s pace. Whilst treatments have improved, we have not yet seen the breakthroughs needed to significantly reduce the massive economic and social damage caused by mental illness.”

The economic, social and human cost of mental illness totals £100 billion a year in the UK alone. And many “physical” health problems involve a strong mental component. Professor Peter Jones, head of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, said: “Mental health and illness are seen as separate from physical health and disorders but it’s becoming increasingly clear that is wrong. Take smoking and lung cancer. People think of it as a physical illness but lung cancer is a behaviour disease due to smoking habit. We need to zip together physical and mental health. It is absurd to think that biological processes would stop at the neck.”

People with severe mental illnesses are nearly three times more likely to develop diabetes and other cardiovascular disease risk factors and, on average, die 25-30 years younger. Research Mental Health says more research investment is desperately needed to match the impact mental health has on people in terms of premature death and disability.

The Judi Meadows Memorial Fund will be funding research that is relevant to Judi’s experience of mental ill-health. It is our intention to seek out those areas that have received no/negligible funding and help researchers produce initial findings that will then help them to secure additional interest and funding from larger institutions. We anticipate in early 2010 funding research into the link between depression and tinnitus.

Posted on October 15th, 2009
The Judi Meadows Memorial Fund is a restricted grant of the McPin Foundation. Charity number: 1117336
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