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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 1 September 2017

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Dear everyone

Promoting and maintaining good mental health is something for all of us. We can all help make a difference and work in ways that reduce the stigma still attached to mental illness, improve the health and lives of those living with and recovering from mental health challenges and take action where we live, learn, work and play to improve our mental health, now and for the future of our families, colleagues, friends and neighbours.

On Wednesday, PHE along with many partners published a mental health concordat for better mental health, setting out what the evidence is on prevention, how it makes a difference and how to go about it. This was preceded last year by the NHS Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which confirmed new investment for mental health care and treatment services. Alongside this, we have published a new tool which has identified the top eight most cost effective programmes that will help prevent mental ill health in local communities and is the first of its kind. Together with the increasing focus on prevention, this is an important moment in recognising there is no good health without good mental health.

This week we also published the latest edition of Health Matters, our summation of the evidence on what works, this time on the take up of cervical screening.  Declining uptake of cervical screening has serious implications not just for cervical cancer diagnosis rates and mortality, but for late diagnosis, which have poorer outcomes and put added pressure on the NHS. We had our highest ever attendance for our launch teleconference and there are infographics, a slide set, case studies, video and blogs which can be easily shared.

There is no evidence so far of the ‘gateway’ concerns that e-cigarettes are leading young people into smoking. Results of the UK’s largest analysis of data on e-cigarette use in young people, co-authored by PHE, has been published and provides strong evidence that our regulatory system for e-cigarettes is largely getting the balance right - in terms of protecting children, while ensuring adult smokers have access to safer nicotine products that can help them, and are helping them to stop smoking. The study shows a consistent pattern that most e-cigarette experimentation among young people does not lead to regular use. Our next full evidence review on e-cigarettes has been commissioned and will be published in 2018.

Good sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing is a further vital contributor to our overall health and wellbeing. Responsibility for the sexual health system rests with a number of different organisations and this has led to concerns about fragmentation and loss of focus. There are of course examples of where this has been overcome locally through collaboration between agencies. This week we published our review of commissioning for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV, which emphasises again that collaboration is the way forward and makes recommendations to both the NHS and local government as well as for PHE itself. Please do have a look.

Stephen Barnard, of our Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, had a paper published in the British Journal of Radiology last year, which has recently been recognised as one of the top ten most accessed papers submitted in 2016. The paper, which is on radiation protection of the eye lens, is of practical relevance to frontline staff in the NHS who use or are exposed to X-rays at work.

And finally, PHE has recently worked with the Sickle Cell Society and the Thalassaemia Society to understand the various patient experiences and expectations during screening for Sickle and Thalassaemia in the antenatal period. The culmination of which is a selection of parent's stories which will help us to understand what we can do going forward to help families who live with these conditions.

With best wishes,





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

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