UK Mental health research is severely under-funded says Professor

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Mental health in general has been getting a lot of press attention lately, partly because organisations and the government have launched a number of campaigns to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and partly because mental illness is becoming such a huge problem.

It’s shocking to learn that only 5 percent of medical research in the UK is devoted to mental health whereas around 16 million people will experience a mental health problem in the next 12 months.

Shocking because that figure is far greater than the number of people who will suffer a stroke or a heart attack, or be diagnosed with cancer, says Professor Til Wykes who is a clinical psychologist from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, and yet the amount of cash devoted to cardiovascular research is double what it is for mental health and in the case of cancer research it is five times as much.

Yes admittedly, the effects of cancer, stroke and heart attacks are devastating and research needs to be done. However, mental illness can be equally devastating and poses a huge problem not just for individuals but for society too and yet it receives very little funding by comparison.

Apparently around 15 percent of all disability in the UK can be attributed to mental illness and yet mental health doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it badly needs. Professor Wykes says that mental health research requires “the same rigorous research as demanded for tackling physical illness” but that mental illness is often ignored or misunderstood.

Professor Wykes was writing in the BBC’s “Scrubbing up” article series and says that mental health research is “incredibly under funded” and is asking for the research funding into mental health to be overhauled.

She says that prejudice about mental health problems makes it more difficult to fund research into the causes and possible treatments for mental illness, and yet mental illness can affect anyone of any age. “”Mental health problems frequently start in childhood and persist throughout the rest of a person’s life,” says Professor Wykes.

“Finding better ways to treat – or preferably prevent – poor mental health as early as possible will bring enormous benefits to individuals, their families and society as a whole. We simply can’t afford to ignore this problem any longer” she says.

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  1. Tony Chilcott
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I am the editor of a Newsletter for Depression – UK and would like to use some of your articles in our next Newsletter. May I have your permission, please?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. admin
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Hi Tony

    As long as you give us credit for the articles , thanks Karl

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