Archive for April, 2019

Are you interested in creating better mental health for all?  If so, please join our first ever joint Public Health and Psychiatry conference on 10 May at Queen Mary’s University, London, focusing on Prevention: What Works? 

What do we mean by Better Mental Health For All 

When mental health makes the headlines it is often owing to healthcare concerns, for example long waiting times for accessing care.  This focus on responding to mental illness is very important, but when considered in isolation it can distort a wider population view of mental health and well-being – one that we are all part of, affected by, and is heavily influenced by our social and economic environment.  Public mental health focuses on mental health improvements for all population groups, as well as targeted and universal approaches to preventing and reducing mental illness. 

So what is the conference about? 

This unique occasion will bring together colleagues from across public health and psychiatry to reflect on and develop plans for how we can continue to collaborate in the creation of better mental health for all.  This will include listening to a range of eminent speakers from across the UK share fascinating examples of collective approaches to improving population mental health, such as: 

  1. The introduction of minimum alcohol pricing in Ireland  
  2. The role of social prescribing  
  3. How different public services are taking innovative and collaborative steps to address adverse childhood experiences.  

The conference will also give attendees a platform to share ideas and perspectives across specialties with regards to the opportunities and challenges of collaborative working.  There is arguably a never more important time for this conference in terms of capitalising on the growing political and societal focus on mental health, as demonstrated in policy documents such as the NHS Long Term Plan.  

What opportunities does this conference offer?  

We asked others across psychiatry, public health and academia:  

Across the whole life span, early life experiences impact on the quality of our relationships, mental health and life chances.   Working in liaison psychiatry in the diverse communities of Luton and Watford, this has been illustrated on a daily basis by the people presenting in crisis in Emergency Departments.  Despite political focus, huge inequalities persist for the people using our services and far too few benefit from timely preventive interventions.  Primary prevention is vital, but so too are secondary and tertiary prevention strategies as there is much need, right now.   Having met many people in both specialties, I believe this truly is a ‘meeting of minds’: two specialties with different skills but shared values.   I’m excited to see how this collaboration develops.

Carol Wilson, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist, East London NHS Foundation Trust 

Mental health problems have a huge impact on population health, causing significant distress and impairment to large numbers of individuals and their families, as well as having a broader social and economic impact. At the same time, positive mental health and resilience can bring great benefits to the individual and society. Joint working across public health and mental health settings, including the policy, research and practice arenas, is important to help maximise population well-being and to limit the public health impact of mental distress.

Associate Professor John Powell, University of Oxford 

Public mental health still feels in its infancy with much that is untested and contested. There is an imperative to bring the skills of public health and the understanding of psychiatry together to agree jointly what works when and for whom, to improve mental health for everyone. Before the spotlight fades.

Niran Rehill, Specialty Registrar in Public Health, London Kent Surrey & Sussex Training Scheme ST5 

Why is this conference needed?  

One of my main motivations for pursuing a career in public health was to tackle the physical health inequalities experienced by people with mental health problems. During my time working as a mental health nurse I witnessed how the physical health needs of individuals experiencing mental health problems were often neglected, particularly in relation to their health-related behaviours (e.g. smoking, alcohol, diet and physical activity). This conference is an important platform in which to develop joint strategies to address physical health inequalities amongst people with mental health problems.

Claire Mawditt, Public Health Specialty Registrar, ST2 

From listening to mental health service users, their families and those caring for them, there seems to be two predominant conversations gaining traction. Firstly, the potential for community organisations to contribute to preventing and supporting population mental health such as schools, sports clubs, barbers, gardening groups and parenting forums. Secondly, the growing recognition of the importance of a life course approach to mental health to build capacity in early identification of mental health problems and early support. The conference provides a platform to take these conversations further to develop a trans-disciplinary approach to addressing these issues.  

Lucie Collinson, Public Health Specialty Registrar, ST5. 

Written by Laura Austin Croft, Lucie Collinson and Claire Mawditt on behalf of the Faculty of Public Health Public Mental Health Special Interest Group.  

The conference is at Queen Mary’s University (E1 4NS) from 10am to 4pm and is free to attend, but places are rapidly running outPlease book a place by clicking here

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National Stalking Awareness Day 2019_AW-01.jpgThe Suzy Lamplugh Trust is due to host a Stalking Awareness Conference on 9 April 2019 in London. The timing of the Conference is pertinent, as it follows the passage of the Stalking Protection Bill in March 2019, designed to strengthen the law and protect victims of stalking.  

This year’s Conference theme is about stalking as a public health issue, which will present opportunities for policy makers, practitioners and experts within the health community across government departments, clinical commissioning groups and local government to meet and begin contributing to dialogue and solutions to mitigate the sheer impact of stalking.    

A joint report on key findings from ‘Stalking and Health – Understanding the impact’ (based on a survey conducted between January and March 2019), will be launched at the Conference. The report by the National Stalking Consortium (which includes the Alice Ruggles Trust, Suzy Lamplugh Trust and National Centre for Cyberstalking Research amongst other stakeholders) will highlight statistics and conditions on mental health due to stalking. It concludes that front line teams (across all public services) need guidance and training enabling them to better assist those being stalked – thereby reducing cases of PTSD, depressions, as well as femicides on what is a largely gendered crime. 

Suzy Lamplugh Trust defines Stalking as “A pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim”.

Stalking is a public health issue which has a huge impact on health and well being of victims. It differs from harassment in that a perpetrator of stalking will be obsessed with or have a fixation on the individual(s) they are targeting. Stalking can take place in many forms, affecting all aspects of everyday life. 

Research has shown: 

  • Stalking is one of the most common forms of interpersonal violence in the UK affecting 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men across their lifetime
  • A reported 1.1 million people experience stalking in England and Wales each year; 734,000 women and 388,000 men.
  • Those experiencing stalking can display symptoms in line with PTSD, anxiety and depression

Suzy Lamplugh Trust has been influencing UK policy for over two decades; including campaigning for the introduction of the Protection of Harassment Act 1997, amended in 2012 to make stalking a criminal offence for the first time. In 2019, the Law around stalking was strengthened to further protect victims at an early stage. The Trust has been running the National Stalking Helpline since its launch in 2010, supporting around 30,000 victims of stalking so far.  

Our work continues, and the National Stalking Awareness Conference 2019 aims to highlight the impact of stalking; challenge and improve existing understanding of stalking within the Health sector for victims as well as perpetrators and focus on addressing the lack of specialist health services for victims of stalking. Please find more information and book your ticket here. 

Written by Sara Hindley, Training and Marketing Assistant, Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

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