Former British Minister of State for Care Services to chair commission on mental health

BIRMINGHAM, 14-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — The Rt Hon Paul Burstow, former Minister of State for Care Services, is to chair the 7th University of Birmingham policy commission.  The focus of the commission is mental health promotion and illness prevention across society.

The commission will include a particular focus on children and young people making recommendations on building resilience and early interventions in schools.  It will also focus on reducing stigma and identify approaches to reducing the number of people experiencing mental distress.

Professor Burstow said:  ‘I am delighted to be leading this work. Currently only 1 in 3 people with a diagnosable mental health condition get any help. The personal and societal costs are huge.

‘The estimated cost is £105bn in England alone. Poorly treated and undiagnosed mental illness which co-occurs with a physical long term condition is a significant accelerant of health care costs.

‘I hope the work will contribute to policy making and thinking in government and across parties.’

The commission will launch its call for evidence on Thursday 9th February with a Twitter Q&A event from 15.30-16.30 GMT.

It will seek evidence from across the four home nations and internationally, taking into account the views of service users, families, communities, practitioners and policy makers.

Questions for commissioners will include, can mental distress and mental illness be tackled simply by improving access to treatment?  Is it possible to scale up treatment to meet growing need? What needs to happen to prevent mental distress and how can we approach this differently?

Prof Burstow said: ‘By working with policy makers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Commission will seek support to implement its recommendations and this will provide a strategic framework for mental health for the 21st Century.’

Recommendations will be made in spring 2018 on how mental health and wellbeing can be improved across the population and promote individual and community resilience.


For media enquiries please contact Rebecca Hume, Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 9041. For out of hours media enquiries, please call: +44 (0) 7789 921 165 or email the Press Office.

Notes to editors

  • This is the 8th Birmingham Policy Commission launched by the University of Birmingham
  • Information on how to contribute to the call for evidence is available here
  • The Commission will consider this evidence and the analysis of this will be published on the Commission’s website. During the process of collecting evidence, and once the final report is published, the commissioners will be engaging with policy makers to support a paradigm shift in our approach to mental distress.
  • According to the Health Survey for England 2014, 26% of adults have been diagnosed with at least one mental health condition during their lifetime – with a further 18% reporting that they experienced mental health issues without a diagnosis.
  • In January 2017, the Prime Minister Theresa May set out her personal commitment to tackling the ‘unacceptable stigma’ of mental health and transforming children’s mental health.
  • The membership of the Commission is as follows:
  • Dr Susanna Abse
    Psychotherapist and Partner at The Balint Consultancy, former Chief Executive Officer of Tavistock Relationships, Executive of the British Psychoanalytic Council
  • Andy Bell
    Deputy Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health, Co-Chair of the Future Vision Coalition, Trustee of Young Minds
  • Professor Dame Carol Black DBE
    Senior Policy Advisor on Work and Health the Department of Health and Public Health England, Chair of the Board of the Nuffield Trust, Principal of Newnham College at the University of Cambridge
  • Professor Paul Burstow PC
    Professor of Mental Health Policy at the University of Birmingham, Chair of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, former Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam between 1997 and 2015, former Minister of State in the Department of Health between 2010 and 2012
  • Jacqui Dyer
    Senior Management Board Lived Experience Advisor for the Time To Change campaign, Member of the Ministerial Advisory Group for Mental Health, former Vice Chair of the Mental Health Taskforce for England
  • Professor Thomas Jamieson-Craig
    President of World Association for Social Psychiatry, Professor Social and Community Psychiatry at King’s College London
  • Dr Cynthia Joyce
    Chief Executive of MQ, former Executive Director of the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation and Executive Director of the American Academy of Neurology Foundation
  • Dr Karen Turner
    Director of Mental Health at NHS England
  • The advisors to the Commission are:
  • Dr Karen Newbigging
    Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Policy and Management in the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham, and former National Lead for Gender Equality and Women’s Mental Health at the Care Services Improvement Partnership
  • Professor Jerry Tew
    Professor of Mental Health and Social Work and Director of the Family Potential Research Centre at the University of Birmingham and is currently leading a Department of Health funded evaluation of preventative approaches in social care
  • Benjamin Costello
    Doctoral Researcher and Teaching Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham and Research Associate to the Commission

SOURCE: University of Birmingham


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