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Mary Chambers, Professor, Mental Health Nursing and Director, Centre for Public Engagement, named expert advisor on APPG’s ‘Mental health for sustainable development’ report.

Mary Chambers

On 26th November2014, The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global Health, launched their report on mental health for sustainable development.  This report considers what the UK is currently doing to improve mental health globally and whether UK expertise and resources could be more effectively used to meet this challenge.

The parliamentarians in the preface summarise the issues as “The simple message of this report is that progress in development will not be made without improvements in mental health. The reasons are equally straightforward. Mental illnesses cause more disability than any other health condition; bring enormous pain and suffering to individuals and their families and communities; and can lead to early death, human rights abuses and damage to the economy. Improving mental health is therefore a vital part of a successful development programme. Yet mental health is generally given a very low priority – and often neglected altogether – in both national and international policy.”

Mary Chambers explains further, “This is a very important report as it highlights the enormous human and economic costs of mental illness at a global level. It also links well with the current UK government’s initiatives to gain parity of esteem between physical illness and mental illness. We know that those with mental illness die 10 to 15 years earlier in developed countries and the situation is much worse in developing countries.  Additionally, we know that all long-term conditions such as diabetes are accompanied by anxiety and depression and as such conditions are on the increase due to demographic change then so too is the incidence of mental illness. Of concern is that whilst reports of this nature highlight the issues under discussion at a given time, they do not ensure measureable action or impact on those experiencing the problems, which in this case is mental health. Unfortunately the stigma associated with mental illness remains despite various campaigns to dispel the myths. There is a long way to travel before there is parity of esteem with physical illness.”