Opening up about mental health
For too long, people with severe mental illnesses in the UK have received poor care, according to Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb.
To improve services, the government has pledged £1·2 million to a pilot scheme in which six National Health Service sites will implement the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's recommendations for psychological treatments for people with psychosis, personality disorders, or bipolar disorder.
The scheme, running throughout 2013—14, is designed to give patients more choice in the care they receive. The sites involved—already leaders in mental health care—will share good practice with other services and provide data to show if and how improvements in services lead to clinical and economic benefits.
Access to services is an important issue, and the UK Government deserves praise for its efforts. However, in an Article in this issue of The Lancet, Antonio Lasalvia and colleagues provide a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done to support people with mental illnesses.
They report findings from a survey of discrimination experienced or expected by people with major depressive disorder. 1082 people from 35 countries took part in the study; 79% had experienced some form of discrimination, with about a third stating that they had been shunned or avoided because of their illness.
Roughly 70% of participants kept their diagnosis secret. Furthermore, as highlighted in a linked Comment, 20—37% of respondents stopped themselves from having a close personal relationship or applying for work or training because they expected to experience discrimination.
That people with mental health problems are limited not only by their illness, but also by the reactions they fear from other people, is a poor reflection of society. The government needs to continue to support mental health care to ensure that people get the treatment they need.
All of us—who, whether we know it or not, are probably the family, friend, or colleague of someone with a mental illness—should strive to provide a supportive environment in which everyone can fulfil their potential without fear of stigma.