News round-up (1 March 2024)

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1st March 2024 about a 6 minute read

This week sees extra funding for some important mental health initiatives, including the expansion of early support hubs designed to provide mental health hub to children and young people, and speeding up the roll-out of the Student Mental Health Charter. A large coalition of charities is backing a manifesto calling on all political parties to tackle inequality and injustice, and to invest in better mental health services, ahead of the next election.

Politicians must commit to improving mental health, charities argue

A new 10-year plan for improving mental health, entitled A Mentally Healthier Nation, has the backing of more than 60 charities, including Mind, the Centre for Mental Health and Marie Curie.

The plan is accompanied by a document called Manifesto for a mentally healthier nation, which sets out the key actions political parties can take to make the plan a reality.

The manifesto argues that all political parties should commit to tackling poverty and racial injustice, reforming the benefits and justice systems, and further investing in better and more equitable mental health services.

It says that ending child poverty and improving housing are critical to building a mentally healthier nation. It also calls for further investment in mental health services, introducing clinically backed waiting time standards, modernising the Mental Health Act, and expanding mental health support to all schools.

Government provides extra funding for early support hubs

The UK government is to provide an additional £3m in funding to expand the number of early support hubs for young people from 10 to 24.

The aim of the hubs is to help young people receive support with their mental health at an early stage, without the need for a referral from a doctor or school. Services offered by the hubs include psychological therapies, specialist advice and wider issues which may affect a young person’s mental health, including sexual health, exam worries, jobs, drugs, alcohol and financial worries.

In October 2023, the government announced nearly £5m in funding for 10 hubs. The £3m for the 14 new hubs, which will be sited in locations across England, comes on top of that.

They are open to those aged 11 to 25, and are available for anyone who may not meet the threshold to receive NHS support. Young people going through the trauma of worry, anxiety or stress will have a physical space to go to when their problems first emerge.

Asylum seekers and refugees at increased risk of mental ill-health

Asylum seekers and refugees are at particular risk of mental health problems, according to a new report.

The report, from the Mental Health Foundation, says that the problems may develop as a result of their experiences in their countries of origin, during their journeys, or after they arrive in the UK.

It recommends that the UK government fulfil its commitment to develop a mental health and wellbeing impact assessment tool, which should involve full consideration of the likely impact on asylum seekers and refugees, and be applied during the development of immigration policy and legislation.

It also says that government should develop a clear strategy for refugee and asylum seeker integration, working with the devolved administrations, local authorities, the voluntary sector, and people with experience of seeking refuge. It adds that asylum accommodation sites and detention centres must have safeguarding protocols in place to protect asylum seekers from discrimination and harassment from members of the public and from staff.

Funding boost for student mental health

The Office for Students (OfS) has announced £400,000 in funding to support the rising demand for the University Mental Health Charter.

The Charter was launched in 2019 by the UK’s student mental health charity, Student Minds. It sets out a range of principles designed to help universities improve mental health support for students and the wider university community.

This additional funding from the OfS will enable the charter to be implemented more speedily, in response to a rapid growth in membership.

The funding will go to increased staffing to support accelerated delivery; investment in digital infrastructure; capacity for online and in-person events; and engagement with external organisations to understand how learning and insights can inform the development of the programme.

Autism charity launches e-learning module on mental health

Autism UK has launched a new e-learning module, entitled Guide to the Mental Health Experiences of Autistic Teenagers, aimed at professionals and parents who are supporting autistic young people between the ages of 13 and 18.

The aim of the module is to increase understanding of autistic young people’s experiences, including their autistic identity, their mental health experiences, and exploring proactive strategies to support them.

The charity worked both with autistic people and with clinicians to develop the module, which has three parts, covering: understanding autistic identity; understanding the mental health experiences of autistic teenagers; and proactive support strategies.

 New fathers encouraged to seek support for mental health

New fathers in Northern Ireland with mental health problems are being encouraged to seek help.

The group Dad’s Voice, in Ballymena, County Antrim, offers support for new dads struggling with their mental health.

Darren Beggs, the lead facilitator for Dad’s Voice, started the group because he noticed a need for more support for new fathers. He feels depression in the postnatal period in men is not properly recognised in Northern Ireland.

“Dads don’t go through the physical change, but they do go through all the emotions of their partner giving birth and feeling helpless,” he said.

Beggs added that the support group had been an invaluable resource.

“It’s nice to go and know it’s not just you that is feeling the pressure of being a dad and going through these things – which you think are normal situations – and they should be easy, but sometimes they are just not.”

Female health care workers more likely to experience burnout than male colleagues

Female health professionals experience burnout at a faster rate than male colleagues, a review of research has found.

The review, which looked at 71 studies in different countries, examined the wellbeing of female professionals in the healthcare sector.

About a quarter of the studies suggested that limited professional autonomy and poor working conditions made women experience burnout at a faster rate than their male colleagues. The burnout rate was lower, however, when women worked in a supportive environment and had a flexible schedule.

About 16% of the studies revealed that implicit gender bias was a key source of mental distress among female health care workers. Examples included unequal pay, fewer opportunities to progress, and female workers not being addressed by their professional titles.

Several studies found a positive association between intentional mindfulness, exercise, sleep, nutrition and well-being.