Dr Andrew Mayers
PhD, MBPsS, FRSA
My mental health campaigning work frequently attracts the attention of local and national media. Please click here to see an overview of radio, TV, and other media appearances.
I am passionate about promoting mental health and challenging stigma, prejudice and discrimination in all areas of society. Although public perception of mental health has improved, there is a long way to go. Mental health should be on a parity with physical health. Mental health accounts for 28% of disability, and yet spending on mental health services only account for 13% of NHS expenditure. Also, we should be able to talk about mental health problems, without fear of negative judgement.
I have the great honour of working with some highly influential groups and charities, such as Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Time to Change, and Dorset Mental Health Forum. Professionally, I am Patron for Bournemouth and District Samaritans, Patron for Dorset Mind, Chair of Trustees for Acts Fast. I hold an honorary contract with Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust (DHUFT). I also hold advisory posts with the NCT and Best Beginnings on their respective perinatal mental health programmes.
When it comes to mental health, we need to change attitudes in the media, the workplace, at school and university, and across society. In this modern age, a great way to raise awareness about mental health is through the use of blogs, written by inspirational people with powerful lived-experience stories. Some of my favourite mental health bloggers are featured here. We can also use social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to raise awareness, tackle stigma, share news, and support service users and carers. You will find me on Twitter via @DrAndyMayers.
I am frequently being asked to attend (or in some cases, lead) mental health campaigns, centre openings, and fundraising events. Click on this link to see more about those. If you would like me to be involved in your event, please contact me via e-mail or Twitter (see links at top of page).
Changing how the media portrays mental health
One of the biggest challenges faced by mental health services users (and campaigners) is the media portrayal of mental health. Although this has improved, there are still too many stereotypical views of those who experience mental health problems. Working with my good friend Paul Scates, we recently ran a seminar at Bournemouth University for Media School academics and students. To find out more about that, and other topical issues, please go to the 'mental health and the media' page.
Perinatal mental health
Please refer to the dedicated pages for this specific area of my work
Mental Health and Policing
The Police are often called to public incidents where someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, such as a severe panic attack, a psychotic breakdown, or perhaps where there is potential suicidal behaviour. Recently, a number of regions across England have been piloting mental health street triages, which seek to provide alternative options to unnecessary detainment in police cells or inappropriate sectioning to psychiatric inpatient facilities. Dorset is one such region, and i am honoured to be working with the local triage, in collaboration with Dorset Police, DHUFT, and the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). You can discover more about that work here, and about the mental health training we are providing to police officers and support staff.
Children and young people
Much of my work includes children and young people, notably through the impact of postnatal depression and children's sleep. However, some of this work also focuses specifically on young people's mental health, including behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. I have the pleasure of working with the inspiring people at Future Roots, a project in north Dorset that uses the therapeutic value of farming and the countryside to re-engage young people with learning through vocational training in agriculture and rural skills. We have just completed a PhD project at the farm, which explored the potential benefits of this unique 'care farm'. You can find out more about this work here.
Young people's mental health is a top priority for me, which is why I am looking at ways in which I can take education and support into schools, working in partnership with DHUFT, Dorset PCC, local authorities, and charities. Education would focus on raising awareness among young people (and about how to look after themselves and their friends); support would look at providing schools with 'tool kits' to deal with mental health problems.
It is essential that we continually expand our knowledge about mental health. We can do that by designing, implementing and reporting high quality research. You can read about some of my own research here. Some of that work has specifically focused on perinatal mental health (so check out those pages). In short, my recent work (in general mental health) has focused on a number of aspects. Two projects have examined mental health and policing: one focusing on how much training police offices get on that; and one how officers get help to protect their own mental health (especially when confronted with traumatic events). Two further studies focused on GPs and mental health; one explored what specific training they get; while another examined what support they get to protect their own mental health. Future studies will follow on from the police research, but focus on other emergencies services, including Fire and Rescue, and paramedics. Some other studies will explore the need to provide mental health education in schools.
Bournemouth University mental health awareness events
Every year, Bournemouth University marks World Mental Health Day (WMHD; October 10th) with a series of events, talks, and information stands.
For WMHD 2016 (#WMHDBU16), we had three areas of focus, each bring a different perspective for mental health: Carers, homeless, and LGBT. Speakers include the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, while we are joined by organisations such as Dorset Mind, Intercom Trust, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, BCHA, Bournemouth Rough Sleepers support team, The Big Issue, and Dorset Mental Health Forum. The full programme is here