By Rohan Bundell, Public Affairs Officer, AMRC

Published: 16 November 2017

On Wednesday 1 November, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research held a breakfast roundtable in Parliament. The event, titled ‘How can the UK become a world leader in research into mental health and multi-morbidities to improve outcomes for those affected?’, brought together a range of stakeholders, spanning patients, carers, researchers, funders, charities and officials from the Department of Health. Alongside the group’s Chair, Chris Green MP, parliamentarians in attendance included Bill Grant MP, Jack Brereton MP, Jo Churchill MP, Dr Lisa Cameron MP and Lord Ramsbotham.

World leading mental health research

Cynthia Joyce, chief executive of the charity MQ: Transforming mental health, outlined three areas that the UK should focus on to become a world-leader in mental health research: prioritisation of mental health across Parliament, with concerted leadership from the top of Government; harnessing of patient data across disease areas to realise the recommendations set out in the life sciences industrial strategy; and greater attention towards the mental health of the young, to which a minority of research is currently directed.

Dr Louise Wood, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health, spoke about the Government’s ten-year strategy for mental health that is currently being created. She also highlighted the importance of developing and nurturing researchers, as well as the importance of patient data.

The patient voice

Bringing the perspective of those who live with mental health conditions and multi-morbidities, two Parkinson’s UK supporters, a husband and wife, delivered a heartfelt and touching account that demonstrated the human toll of Parkinson’s and mental health conditions. Whilst mental health problems are a common symptom of Parkinson’s, as well as a common reaction to certain treatments, they are often left untreated or unmanaged in those with Parkinson’s.

We were also informed about an inquiry to be launched by the APPG on Parkinson’s in spring. The inquiry will investigate access to quality mental health support for people experiencing anxiety and/or depression to help prevent other families from suffering similar experiences. If you’d like to contribute to the inquiry, please get in touch with [email protected].

Next steps

Moving forward, the APPG on Medical Research is planning its next event on the vital issue of patient data, which will be held in Parliament in February 2018. To keep updated with upcoming activity or if you have any questions about the work of the group, please contact [email protected]