Director of External Affairs at Rethink Mental Illness
Brian Dow joined Rethink Mental Illness as Director of External Affairs in November 2014.
He has more than twenty years’ experience working in media, communications and campaigns. He started his professional career as a producer and broadcast journalist before moving into the third sector, working for organisations including Action for M.E., Action on Hearing Loss, Shelter, and The Children’s Food Trust and most recently as Director of Communications at the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health.
It shouldn't be this hard. Being involved in your care and treatment should be part and parcel of any hospital stay. It's common sense. If someone is treated with dignity and respect, with treatment being explained to them, not just done to them, they are more likely to engage in their own care, and stay on the road to recovery. It's routine practice for physical health problems so it's about time mental health caught up.
We've been talking about a 'turning point' for mental health for a long time now, but in reality it will take more than one moment to improve mental health in this country. It will take long term, concrete plans and investment. It's now up to the political parties to look at their manifestos, and individual candidates to look at their commitments on the doorstep, and think what they can do to give everyone with mental health problems a better future for mental health a reality.
Last time I wrote on this blog I was imbued with a feeling of optimism, albeit of a cautious sort. Theresa May had just delivered her first speech on domestic policy after months of Brexit dealings where she outlined her determination to right some of the 'burning injustices' that plagued society, and astonishingly, I thought, she chose mental illness to illustrate her zeal.
For some months those of us in the mental health sector have known there was the possibility of a major announcement from the Government brewing, and so I was delighted to accept the invitation to hear the Prime Minister talk at the Charity Commission on Monday, for what had been a well-trailed speech.
It's hard to think of an example of health jargon which carries as much potency as the term 'sectioned'. Said out loud and without the associations it brings about for your average person, actually nothing could sound more bland and inoffensive
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Our sons will be no lesser men and we no lesser fathers if we start by acknowledging our own difficulties, so that we normalise conversations around mental health in the same way we would consider it our duty as dads to encourage our sons to think and talk about good physical health.
Together we can prevent suicide and save lives. If we can create an environment where talking about our feelings is as normal and healthy as talking about Brexit, or football or anything else for that matter, then we can help a lot of people see a way out of unhappiness.
I'd like to take this opportunity to reassure our supporters and campaigners, and indeed everyone affected by mental illness, that we will do everything we can to ensure mental health remains a priority for the Government, regardless of how dominant the question of our future relationship with Europe, to coin the phrase, remains.
People with mental health conditions typically smoke at higher rates and are more heavily addicted than average. Around one third of adult tobacco consumption is by people with a mental health condition. This means that they are much more likely to experience serious health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease, as a result of smoking.
With our partners Mind, we gathered evidence from over 20,000 people into the Taskforce and once again, what we heard loud and clear was a need for services that would provide the same quality care and support that would be there for a physical health issue. This is now the chance to make a reality of that hope.
It's quite simple. We all need to work together, individuals and groups, to ensure that those living with mental illnesses do not feel sidelined any more. We believe a better life is possible for people affected by mental health issues and we run services and support groups that change people's lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.