By Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Founder and CEO stem4
I was honoured, as a ‘Points of Light Award’ winner to be invited to 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister on World Mental Health Day 10th October this year. It was a warm and sunny day and the beauty of London was striking as I walked from Westminster to where some of the most famous political figures of modern history have lived and some of the most important decisions of British history have taken place.
Having gone through several levels of security I was finally in the hall, homely with coats and bags left in the entrance and up the grand staircase with its many black and white engravings and photographs and through a warren of rooms to the large interconnecting reception room, understatedly grand – heavily drapes, moderately ornate ceilings and plentiful photographs and paintings.
I enjoyed meeting various leaders in the field of mental health. There were, in the room around 30 ministers of health from around the world. The Prime Minster, Theresa May spoke of a package of new measures to improve the mental health of children and young people. Some of the new measures included:
- An annual Global Ministerial Summit on mental health every 10th October, the first having been hosted by the UK with an agreement from more than 50 countries to achieve equity for mental health in the 21st Century
- A commitment to produce an annual State of the Nation report on children and young people’s mental health commencing from next World Mental Health Day in 2019
- The appointment of Jackie Doyle-Price, MP as the first UK minister for suicide prevention
- Further funding for the Samaritans’ helpline
- ‘Every Mind Matters’ campaign to train 1 million people in mental health awareness
- Routine mental health and wellbeing assessments in schools
Having stated ‘we all know someone who has been affected by mental health problems – whether a family member, a colleague or friend’ whilst simultaneously pointing out that only 2.8 per cent of government health spend occurred worldwide; she also stated ‘for we are not looking after our health if we are not looking after our mental health’ – a message that encapsulates the work of stem4.