Rethink uses Bruno row to slam campaign

Mental health charity Rethink is utilising media coverage surrounding Frank Bruno’s treatment under the Mental Health Act to highlight its criticism of the Government’s anti-stigma PR campaign, Mind Out for Mental Health.

Rethink head of policy and campaigns Paul Corry said the Mind Out campaign, which has a £1m annual budget and covers England and Wales, was poorly funded and short-termist compared with efforts in Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.

Corry said: ‘If you look at equivalent mental health promotion spending in Australia and New Zealand you will see they spend seven or eight times as much as the UK.’

He added that last month’s decision by the Scottish Executive to allocate £24m for mental health treatment and campaigning over the next three years was a good example of long-term thinking.

Corry said that, in contrast, funding efforts for PR in England and Wales were renewed annually, hampering planning. He said the Government should change its strategy and run a two-stage campaign similar to previous initiatives on smoking, focusing first on awareness and then on changing habits.

Paul Farmer, Rethink director of public affairs, called for more funding for charities’ efforts to combat stigma.

A Department of Health spokesman said that, although the campaign was run on a year-by-year basis, it was part of a 10-year programme for mental health promotion.

However, a source close to Mind Out said criticism of the annual funding of the campaign was ‘a fair point’.

Meanwhile, following The Sun’s coverage of Bruno’s travails, another mental health charity, Mind, has written an open letter of protest to Sun editor Rebekah Wade. The paper was forced to change its ‘Bonkers Bruno Locked Up’ headline after a backlash from mental health organisations and readers.

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