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February 2020

“Mental health has risen up the political agenda, but there is still further to go”

Think Ahead’s Co-Chief Executive Ella Joseph has written on the PoliticsHome website – a leading source of political news and comment – about her hopes for developments in attitudes and approaches to mental health over the next decade.

In Ella’s piece, she talks about how the past decade has been transformational in the way people view and talk about mental health, with high profile campaigns getting lots of attention, and celebrities sharing their experiences.

But Ella also highlights that there is still a long way to go, particularly towards ending the stigmatisation of the most severe mental health problems such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorders. Mental health social workers often work with people with severe mental health problems, so we regularly see that there is still much stigma surrounding these severe illnesses.

Ella’s piece highlights three important areas for development – firstly, that politicians should engage in more constructive discussion around serious mental illness, secondly that the media should play a role in reducing stigma, and thirdly, that more attention should be given to the social issues that affect mental health.

On the third point, Ella writes: “Severe mental illness is entwined with social factors such as finances, employment, relationships, discrimination, housing and social exclusion – all things that our trainee social workers support people with.”

Ella goes on to explain that, although there has been an increased focus on social issues amongst mental health professionals, there is still a long way to go. She writes: “The vital role played by social workers in mental health care is frequently overlooked. Social approaches should be more valued, as should the dedicated professionals who promote them.”

Read Ella’s full article on Politics Home here.