Friday 15 November 2013

Up 4 It!

At the launch yesterday

Excellent launch for our pioneering new "Up4It!" Early Intervention Service in S E Wales - in partnership with the Aneurin Bevan LHB. Thank you Big Lottery for the grant and thanks too to the Minister for backing this tough and demanding initiative.

Nothing controversial about educating all young people (or all people) about mental health (but that won't stop people developing serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder); nothing much controversial about supporting people with an established history of serious mental illness; but intervening at the earliest stages of psychosis, especially with children, is difficult ground on which we will have to tread with great care.

But then the whole idea is to combine sensitive clinical help with a determination to sustain young people's engagement with normal processes of education and getting into work, etc: hence this uniquely close partnership with the LHB.

There is also a very important, if secondary, consideration, namely the argument for such a service in terms of health economics. Purely preventive health initiatives have their place though they are notoriously elusive in terms of proving cost-effective. This is especially true in mental health - for the simple reason stated above that the common serious illnesses, which use up 80% or more of mental-health-specific resources, are not preventable by provision of advice to the public. However, the potential for saving resources through early intervention is another matter!

But, as I say, that would be secondary to saving lives literally and qualitatively...

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford AM, Professor Siobhan Mclelland - Vice Chair Aneurin Bevan Health Board, me, Team Leader Early Intervention Service Shane Anthony and John Baird, Consultant Psychologist