Designing better mental healthcare facilities

Former boxer’s heavyweight efforts to help the mentally unwell

‘Pioneering efforts’ by the former World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, Frank Bruno, who is helping people with mental ill health back into work, have been welcomed by Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, during a visit to the Frank Bruno Foundation in Northampton.

This follows the government unveiling what it has dubbed ‘an unprecedented £795 m of additional funding so thousands of people can be helped back into work over the next five years, keeping them out of poverty, improving their wellbeing, and raising their living standards’. Funding will expand NHS Talking Therapies, so an additional 384,000 people will benefit from treatment over the next five years, and increase the number of sessions available.

The former professional boxer, who has spoken openly about how exercise has played a vital role in his battle with mental health challenges, set up the Frank Bruno Foundation in 2017, offering wellbeing programmes and structured non-contact boxing sessions for anyone aged over 10 experiencing mental ill health. A ‘stay in work’ scheme – aimed at helping professionals with mental health difficulties stay in work and prevent long-term sickness – is central to the foundation’s work. An associated ‘wraparound service’ helps professionals deal with other contributing struggles such as housing, money worries, addiction, family difficulties, and bereavement.

Maria Caulfield (pictured) said: “Frank and his team are doing a great job at getting people fighting fit through boxing classes, using innovative techniques to support local people with their mental health and wellbeing. In particular, it’s great to see his brilliant ‘stay in work’ scheme. This government is determined to help as many people as possible stay healthy, get off benefits, and move into work. That’s why we’ve just unveiled £795 million of new funding to provide more mental health treatments nationwide, and help those with mental health conditions stay in or find work.”

Frank Bruno said: “I am honoured that the Frank Bruno Foundation received a visit from Maria Caulfield. We are providing a unique service to the mental health community in Northamptonshire, and it is having a really positive impact. The Minister was really interested in our work, and I was keen to hear how the government is looking to improve the future of mental healthcare. I was delighted the Minister got into the boxing ring with me, and pledged to continue the fight against mental health challenges. If there was somewhere like this foundation available when I was ill it could have really helped, so we need to see more services like this made available.”

With its additional funding, the government is boosting four key programmes – NHS Talking Therapies, Individual Placement and Support, Restart and Universal Support – to benefit up to 1.1 million people over the next five years, and help those with mental or physical health conditions stay in or find work.

NHS Talking Therapies provides evidence-based psychological therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy, for treatment of mild and moderate mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders.

The additional £795 m investment will also fund an additional 100,000 Individual Placement and Support places over five years, which will help people with severe mental illness gain and retain paid employment.

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