Much has changed since the birth of the NHS 70 years ago: polio and diphtheria are now diseases of the past, many more people survive illnesses such as stroke and cancer, and the NHS has even pioneered treatments such as a bionic eye and hand transplants.
But at the same time, there has been a much more subtle but far-reaching change in the NHS: a change in focus from mental illness to mental health.
This change in focus is perhaps most visible in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative (first started in 2009), which makes effective talking therapies available to many more people, not just ones who are formally diagnosed with a mental illness
Instead, the aim is to offer help and support for everyday mental health problems, to support good mental health.
Within Oxford Health, we have two NHS services offering free, effective and easily accessible talking therapies to people living in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire : Healthy Minds Bucks and Talking Space Plus in Oxfordshire.
But more recently, the government five year forward view for mental health sets out an ambition to establish ‘parity of esteem’: valuing mental and physical health equally.
This aim makes even more sense given the well-established links between physical and mental health, and Healthy Minds Bucks now also works with people with long-term physical conditions (such as diabetes), which can often lead to people feeling low, anxious or stressed.
The service also offers employment advice for those who are struggling at work, or finding it difficult to get a job because of depression, anxiety or stress.
John Pimm, who heads Healthy Minds Bucks, said: “Last year alone, we worked with just over 8000 people at Healthy Minds Bucks.
But it is likely that over 43,000 people in Buckinghamshire alone suffer from a common mental health problem, and we’re determined to reach out to all people who may benefit from talking therapies.
As a nation, we are becoming more comfortable with talking about our psychological well-being, with royals, celebrities and athletes sharing their experiences in the media.
We’d like to invite everybody to celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday by making such conversations a normal part of everyday life: whether you’re struggling with diabetes, heart-disease, another long-term physical health condition, or are finding it difficult to cope with depression, anxiety or stress, we’re here to help.”
You don’t have to be referred by your doctor to access these services: have a look at Healthy Minds Bucks (https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/healthyminds/) if you’re a Buckinghamshire resident, or Talking Space Plus (https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/talkingspaceplus/), to find out how you can self-refer, and find out about the support available in your area.
Healthy Minds Bucks will also be at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital on Saturday 28th July from 11 am to 3 pm: drop by and have a chat with one of our staff to find out how we can help you.
Read more of our NHS70 stories.