No more to this ‘pitiful’ investment – A World Mental Health call from our chair

Professor Stephen Scott CBE FRCPsych FMedSci, President of ACAMH. Stephen is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in the CAMHS Adoption and Fostering Service and the Conduct Problems Service at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. He is also a Professor of Child Health and Behaviour at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and the Director of the National Academy for Parenting Research, London.

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World Mental Health Day reminds us of the very large number of people who live with distress and anguish for long periods of their lives. The burden is huge, the World Health Organisation has calculated that depression’s economic cost is second only to that of cancer. Yet even in developed countries the spend on research and services is pitifully small.

On the research side, cancer receives over £1500 per head of population per year, whereas the total on mental health across all ages it is less than £10. But what, you may ask about charitable funding? Well for every £1 the government gives for cancer research, the public donates £2.75; the figure for mental health research is 0.3p. On the service side, the amount spent on outpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is £50 per person per year in England and Wales. Pitiful.

But with your help, we can change that. Talk about mental health problems both personally and generally, write to your MP, donate to mental health charities. And make use of this charity’s resources.

The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) can help in so many ways. You can get knowledge from our website, an information hub, containing free Topic Guides, Research Digests from our world lead journals, blogs and podcasts from the leading experts in the field, plus you can improve your skills by attending our National Conferences and regional events where you can meet like-minded people and talk through the latest approaches.

Together, we can make big strides forward, and the good news is that understanding of what causes mental health problems, from genetics, the brain to toxic stress, goes forward a pace, hand in hand with exciting new treatments, many of which have long-term enduring benefit, not only on distress but also on people’s ability to lead happy lives and have satisfying relationships.


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