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Duncan Selbie's Friday message – 17 March 2017

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Dear everyone

Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50, and more women are taking their own lives each year. There is growing evidence behind a number of actions that can help to prevent suicide, and support those bereaved or affected by suicide, and the workplace offers a practical opportunity to reach people who need extra support.

Alongside new figures published by the Office for National Statistics today showing suicide prevalence in England by occupation, we have developed a new guide for employers on suicide prevention in partnership with the Samaritans and Business in the Community, published today, to be used in conjunction with the PHE-BITC Mental Health Toolkit for Employers. Talking with a manager or colleagues can help someone get the support they need, and ultimately save lives, and this practical guidance is aimed at employers of all sizes in business and the public sector to prioritise mental health and suicide prevention when designing their staff health and wellbeing plans.

On Monday we published the first update on the Everybody Active, Every Day national framework for increasing physical activity, published in 2014, as requested by the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the government’s sport strategy. Although two years is too short a time to see a significant shift in population activity levels, we have seen local areas using the framework to develop their approach and the report includes some excellent examples of using the evidence to inform practice and commissioning. Thank you to everyone involved across the country.

The World Health Organization has set a global goal to eliminate hepatitis C as a major public health threat by 2030. Our Hepatitis C in England 2017 report, published on Wednesday, recommends the next steps towards achieving this and shows the first fall in deaths from severe hepatitis C-related liver disease in a decade, very likely due to increased access to new therapies funded by NHS England. Obviously more to do, but this is good news.

On Wednesday I joined the advisory board for the #I will campaign, which aims to make social action part of life for all young people by 2020. Social action can take many forms, from fundraising and volunteering, to service in the community and campaigning, and in the three years since it began the number of affiliated organisations has risen from 50 to more than 700. As young people transition from their teenage years, having the experience of volunteering, or some kind of social action, is important to help them get ready for employment and to benefit from the near 50% advantage that volunteering gives those seeking permanent jobs.

On Thursday, the four Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) based at Imperial College showcased their progress and achievements from their first three years to attendees from across academia, the National Institute for Health Research and PHE.

It was confirmed that the Respiratory HPRU team has been awarded a Medical Research Council grant to conduct phase 1 studies in humans of new interventions for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These were developed by PHE following the treatment of the first patient with MERS by the NHS. This is a great example of how we can leverage the combined academic and service delivery expertise within HPRU teams to increase the speed at which new interventions for emerging infections can be used by clinicians.

PHE is at heart a delivery organisation, translating scientific evidence into public health policy and action, and our partnerships with universities through the 13 HPRUs help to ensure our work is underpinned by strong scientific understanding. World-leading in their reach and ambition, they are also creating a pipeline of medical, scientific and technical staff for the future.

And finally, thank you to our scientists who have been offering interactive workshops to primary and secondary schools in Harlow this week, encouraging children to think about science as a future career as part of British Science Week. As we plan for our new world-class science campus in Harlow, this was a great opportunity to engage the next generation.

With best wishes,

Friday messages from 2012-2016 are available on GOV.UK

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  1. Comment by trevor posted on

    I tell you truly duncan
    the British establishment is a major cause of depression
    and many people have ended up taking their lives because of the British establishment.
    When the nation is governed by competent and caring thoughtful people
    then and only then will you see a drop in the kind of depression that often leads to suicide.
    Even doctors have taken their lives because of the negative effect of the British establishment.