Mental health in a population depends on much more than the policies of the health and social services, and is influenced by policies on housing, employment, taxation, availability of alcohol, and so on. Policy is likely to work best if it is integrated as far as possible with existing systems for education, human resources, organizing feedback, and alliance building between key partners.

Public policy on its own is not sufficient. It needs to be accompanied by a strategic implementation programme, a timetable for action and substantial political will. It is essential to access key budgets, secure capital, ensure revenue flows, maximize the use of generic budgets as well as specific budgets, sponsorship, and aid. Mental illness is stigmatized and suffers from lack of resources everywhere. Giving it its own ring-fenced budget gives it status, visibility, and transparency of its budget and its relative priority. It also prevents other services from taking resources intended for people with mental disorders. (50)

Professional, particularly psychiatric, advice to government departments is essential if policy is to be rooted in the epidemiology, evidence for risk factors, evidence for effective services and treatments, and measurement of outcomes. It is therefore important to develop the capacity for policy work in the profession by including public health and policy placements for young psychiatrists.

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