The Mental Health Foundation has today launched a joint initiative alongside the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London seeking an increase in investment for mental health research.
The 'Research Mental Health' initiative is calling for the Government, the National Health Service, funding bodies, research institutions, the pharmaceutical industry and the third sector to commit to a joint strategy and provide necessary investment to reduce the social and economic damage caused by mental illness. This will take the form of a declaration to be made this evening at 11 Downing Street, which they hope eventually will attract 10,000 signatories online.
MHF and the Institute of Psychiatry have been working together with scientists to promote the interests of mental health research, and many leading scientists have penned the declaration. Public figures to have signed include Alistair Campbell, Tracey Emin, Stephen Fry, Melanie C and Jo Brand.
Currently one in four experience a mental health problem each year in the UK, and only a quarter receive treatment - mostly in the form of medication. One third of a GP's time is spent on mental health issues, while 13m working days are lost each year due to stress-related illnesses.
Paul Hamlyn Foundation partners the Mental Health Foundation on the 'Right Here' Special Initiative, a five-year programme launched in October 2008 which aims to develop new ways of delivering mental health services to young people, and reduce the chances of them developing mental health problems in the future.
In total, poor mental health is said to cost the UK £100bn a year, causing 15% of the country's disease burden. However, £74m is spent on researching mental illness, only 5% of total health research spending. Research Mental Health states it wants that figure to rise to £200m by 2014, claiming that, with proper research, necessary breakthroughs for new treatments could be made within 20 years.
The declaration states that: "Research on mental illness is still massively under-resourced compared with research for major physical illnesses, despite causing a comparable or larger disease burden. The long term aim must be to put mental health research on the same footing as that of physical illness and ensure it reflects the enormous health, social and economic burden imposed by mental illness."