Researchers in the UK and worldwide will join forces to make advances in mental health research with a new funding injection of £30m, the Government has announced yesterday.
Speaking at the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London, on World Mental Health Day, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – a research body funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – will receive the extra funding.
The money will go towards supporting research into mental health in low and middle-income countries, according to the NIHR.
Mr Hancock said: ‘People with serious mental illnesses, like major depression or schizophrenia, have a 40 to 60% greater chance of dying prematurely, often due to physical conditions which go untreated like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
‘We can’t improve physical health without improving mental health, so we’re putting a further £30m into global mental health research through the UK’s NIHR.’
This funding announcement is one of the largest investments in global mental health research and reinforces the UK’s leading position in tackling this challenge.
Mr Hancock said: ‘The UK has made tackling mental health a priority. We are now spending record amounts of taxpayers’ money on mental health services, nearly £12bn this year.’
The Government also announced yesterday that it is allocating £1.8m to the Samaritans, which will allow them to cover their helpline costs for the next four years, and it named the UK’s first minister for suicide prevention, among other actions to raise awareness on mental health.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief scientific adviser for the DHSC said: ‘Mental health problems affect a significant proportion of people worldwide, with those in low- and middle-income countries often not able to access the treatments they need.
‘Global mental health is under-researched and under-funded area, so I’m pleased that the NIHR is launching its first ever targeted funding call in this area.’
The UK’s commitment to equally value mental and physical health, which is one of the NHS long-term plan’s priorities, was renewed yesterdays at the Summit, the first gathering of countries that will work together to find the best treatment for mental health.
Mr Hancock said yesterday: ‘This summit, today’s declaration and our commitment to achieving equality between mental and physical health is a bold, ambitious statement of intent.’