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It was argued that it was important for the government to address capital and wellbeing; and better integration of primary care and
problems that affect the mental development of specific groups – such occupational health services for identification of early symptoms of
as those individuals with learning difficulties or mental disorders – as stress and mental ill health.
well as pursuing policies that nurture the mental capital and wellbeing
of the wider population. Older People – Managing Cognitive Decline
It is estimated that in the UK by 2071 the number of people above
Learning Difficulties in Children
60 years of age could double to more than 21 million people and the
One of the major ways in which an individual’s mental capital may be number of those above 80 years of age could more than treble to
affected is through the presence of a learning disability. Current 9.5 million. Over the next 30 years the number of those with
prevalence rates estimate this to be 10%.
Dyslexia and dyscalculia are dementia in the UK could double to 1.4 million and the cost to the UK
associated with outcomes adversely affecting a life trajectory not just economy could treble from the current bill of £17 billion per year to over
£50 billion per year.
Addressing these challenges requires actions on
several fronts. The importance of early detection of new biomarkers for
Mental wellbeing is a dynamic state in dementing processes and the earlier deployment of new drugs to
which the individual is able to develop his
maximise therapeutic benefits, enhance quality of life and reduce the
burden on health services were all highlighted. Protecting mental capital
or her potential, work productively and into older age by the encouragement of exercise and continued learning
creatively, build strong and positive
from middle age onwards was seen as important. Older people have
massive underutilised mental capital that could be tapped for both
relationships with others and contribute themselves and the benefit of wider society. Ways in which this might
to the community.
occur include encouraging social networking, enabling ongoing learning
and encouraging working later in life.
associated with lower school examination achievement but also Mental Ill Health
reduced lifetime earnings, poorer decision-making and increased The complex manner in which mental capital is drained by the presence
vulnerability to alcohol and drug misuse, thereby exacerbating the of mental ill health is noted. Overall, mental ill health is a huge problem,
negative impact. Early detection is associated with better outcome currently costing England alone up to £77 billion per year to manage.
measures. It was highlighted that teacher training needs to capitalise on Some mental disorders are set to grow significantly in the future as they
the latest scientific understanding of child psychology from the brain are strongly linked to certain trends (e.g. the prevalence of dementia and
sciences and developmental psychology. the increasing ageing population). However, aetiological complexity
prevents such confident predictions of other disorders.
Importance of Learning in Adulthood
The whole pattern of work and the manner in which adults learn has Childhood
changed markedly over the last generation. A globalised and Childhood mental disorders have a complex aetiological basis,
competitive market for a wide variety of skills now exists. The often with multiple preventable social risk factors. These include: child-
previous linear and incremental progression model within work has specific risks, such as physical ill health and poor educational
been replaced by requirements for flexibility, adaptability and achievement; family-specific risk factors, including lone parenthood,
employability. Such skills require confidence and larger amounts of
mental capital. Learning across the lifespan should be promoted with
recognition of the positive impact it can bring to increased individual
and community wellbeing.
The onset of personality disorders
Wellbeing at Work
and their associations and tentative
Increased mental capital may be encouraged through improved lifelong
aetiologies may be usefully modelled
learning as an end in itself. However, it may also be used as a means to
such an end by improving wellbeing within the workplace – an area
through this framework.
of growing concern.
Work is recognised as a positive influence on mental capital, but it can
be associated with a number of markers of reduced wellbeing. In the UK, reconstituted families, poor educational level of parents, parental
work-related absenteeism accounts for 10–14 million days lost per year, unemployment and low income; family functioning risk factors, such as
costing approximately £750 million per year, with common mental maternal depression and family discord; and neighbourhood factors,
disorders making up a substantial proportion of this. ‘Presenteeism’ – such as general deprivation and poor social cohesion.
where an individual may be present but less productive – has been
estimated to cost the UK economy even more.
The long-term impact on the life trajectory of children and young people
if untreated or unmanaged can be enormous. This also results in
Addressing these challenges is important. The report advises several transgenerational perpetuation of problems through maintenance of
steps, including: increasing the level of flexible working to aid those with low academic achievement, increased involvement in the criminal
conflicting time demands; better education of line managers in justice system, increased prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in
understanding the benefits of their workforce having good mental adulthood and more adult physical ill health.
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