Karen Hoskins

24 February 2016

The elephant in the room

In January of this year, something significant (though largely unnoticed) happened in the world of health and wellbeing. David Cameron became the first Prime Minister in British history to speak about mental health issues in a public speech.

As well as pledging £1billion investment in mental health services, he also said he wanted a more ‘open’ and ‘mature’ approach to an issue mired in both stigma and under-investment.

This would all seem to be a big step forward. So why wasn’t it applauded more widely?

In a letter signed by hundreds of psychiatrists, psychotherapists and other experts in the field, Health Professionals claim they note that the demand for mental health services has risen 20% over the last five years, while mental health service budgets have been cut by 8% in real terms.

Writing in The Independent, Neha Shah says the reality on the ground during these years has been 590 additional suicides and an extra 279,000 prescriptions for anti-depressants.

These are not happy statistics.

It is also estimated that recent cuts in services have left 10,000 victims of sexual abuse waiting over a year for counselling services.

Whilst the Prime Minister’s offer of £1bn towards the problem is welcomed, it is reckoned it would take an £11bn investment to reverse the current trends.

But behind this story, whichever side you take, is the growing awareness that when we speak of health, we must also speak of mental health.

Simon Parke says as CEO of the Mind Clinic which takes counselling into a wide range of organisations. With experience of over 2500 one-to-one meetings with employees, one truth is clear: more important than our external circumstances in life are our internal resources.

Life is difficult - whether its relationship problems, financial troubles, housing issues, family crises… or some other experiential monster.

In the end, however, it’s not our situation that cripples us; but our inability to respond to that situation with resilience and creativity.

Yes, it’s all about our mental health…the subject no one likes to speak about. To most employers, a broken ankle is so much more acceptable than depression when it comes to sick notes.

And the imbalance is reflected in the NHS where mental health services currently receive only 13% of funding despite accounting for more than 23% of the disease burden in the UK.

When we speak about health – whether our own or the health of others - there’s an elephant in the room.


Simon Parke is CEO of the Mind Clinic. For more information about their support work in organisations, go to: