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RCGP launches £200,000 research appeal

Helen Lester Appeal aims to raise money to improve primary care mental health services

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has launched a £200,000 research appeal in memory of Professor Helen Lester (pictured), a GP who was an impassioned advocate for improvements to the physical and mental health of patients with psychiatric problems.

The college says that mental health research currently receives less than 6.5% of total health research spending yet a quarter of adults in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year.

The new appeal aims to raise £200,000 to support valuable and much-needed research into mental health in primary care to improve the lives of those living with mental health problems across the UK.

People with serious mental health problems are more likely to die 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population and are more likely to suffer from physical health problems, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes, meaning they are likely to die 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population.

The research made possible by this appeal will enable GPs to provide the best possible quality of care for the 16.7m people in the UK who suffer from a mental health problem.

Prof Lester was a College Fellow and Council Member and served as Chair of the RCGP’s Clinical Innovation and Research Centre (CIRC) from 2010-2012. She died in March last year.

Dr Imran Rafi, RCGP Chair of CIRC, said: “Helen worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those living with mental health problems and lobbied hard to deliver funding and resources to help treat patients with serious mental illness.

“Research is an essential part of evolving primary care in the best interests of all our patients and this appeal will go a long way to see Helen’s excellent work continue.

“Mental Health is an enduring priority for the College, under the leadership of Dr Elizabeth England, and the outcome of this appeal will help to shape this important body of work.”

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