Headlines: October 14th, 2009

Mental health research by the Government, the NHS, funding bodies, research institutions, the pharmaceutical industry and the third sector should be radically increased. This call comes from dozens of leading scientists who want a trebling of investment and have the backing of a number of leading public figures.

The Declaration to be made in Downing Street is part of the Research Mental Health initiative. The organisers say mental illness accounts for 15 per cent of the country’s disease burden but gets only five per cent of total health research spending. Mental health research investment currently stands at 74 million pounds but Research Mental Health want to see that rise to 200 million pounds a year within the next five years so investment matches the impact that mental illness has.

The group, led by the Institute of Psychiatry, part of King’s College London and the Mental Health Foundation says investment in physical disease has led to big advances such as doubling of cancer survival rates in the last 30 years.

Andrew McCulloch, the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said understanding of mental illness was 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. Many promising treatments never reach people with a mental illness who desperately need them because of a lack of research and evidence,” he said.