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SANE - a leading UK mental health charity improving quality of life for anyone affected by mental illness - SANE

Marjorie WallaceSANE was founded in 1986 by the investigative journalist Marjorie Wallace, following the public response to a series of articles she had written for The Times newspaper called The Forgotten Illness. She was fired up by the suffering experienced by patients at once liberated and dispossessed by the closures of the old mental hospitals, and the apathy and indifference with which so many were met once discharged into the community.

Since then the mental health landscape appears on the surface to have shifted dramatically. A succession of public awareness and anti-stigma campaigns have brought mental illness out of the shadows. Yet we at SANE still find ourselves fighting the same battles on behalf of people for whom the neglect still continues and who often have nowhere to turn at times of crisis and despair.

This shift in public perception and acceptance has been reflected in laudable policies by successive governments, for example, in improving access to psychological therapies and by the introduction of waiting times for mental health patients. But many of the fundamentals of mental healthcare have continued to be eroded over decades, and it is vital we tackle this history of neglect by restoring the balance between inpatient and community care.

We should ensure that every mental healthcare trust has psychiatric beds available for people who are in crisis, or who need long-term care. This will help avoid the scandal of people being denied treatment or sent hundreds of miles from home for a hospital bed. It would also help to relieve the pressure on overstretched and demoralised community mental health teams.

We also need to train and employ sufficient psychiatric doctors, nurses, therapists and counsellors so that home treatment teams can provide the safe and consistent psychological treatment that people who contact us say they desperately need.

In order to achieve genuine parity between mental and physical healthcare there must also be a cultural change, so that those arriving at A&E who are suicidal or self-harming are assessed and treated, rather than patched up and turned away. Without measures such as these we will be unable to bridge the growing gap between high aspiration and the reality of psychiatric services at breaking point.

SANE continues its work to this day. Each year we are contacted by thousands of people reporting all kinds of mental health problems, their families, friends and professionals in the field. It is through this frontline experience that we know just how isolated patients can feel and how confused they and their families have become by the ever-changing configuration of mental health services.

Our three main aims are to raise awareness and combat the stigma surrounding mental ill-health; provide emotional support and specialist services; and promote research into the causes and treatments for mental illness.

HoraceIn recent years, efforts to raise awareness and combat stigma have not been matched by improvements to psychiatric services, and the daily reality experienced by those who contact SANE. We consistently campaign for those voices to be heard, so that those in need receive the care and treatment they deserve.
We also provide emotional support, guidance and information to many thousands of people affected by mental ill-health. We are open to all, whether you are experiencing mental distress yourself, or are a carer, family member, professional or concerned member of the public.

SANEline remains the only out-of-hours national, specialist mental health helpline, available 365 days a year to people in crisis, those with enduring and relapsing conditions and those who care for them. Our growing team of volunteers offer listening, understanding, up-to-date information and support to callers in need and distress.

A deeper understanding of the causes of mental illness is vital in the search for better treatments and therapies. To that end we built our research centre in the grounds of Warneford Hospital, Oxford. The Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research (POWIC) hosts research teams working across disciplines, stimulating new ideas and disseminating information.
We also continue to run our Black Dog Campaign to encourage people to speak out about mental illness and find their own language to express their experiences. Sculptures of Black Dogs wearing coats designed by artists, celebrities and others have been placed in business foyers, public parks and shopping centres in towns and cities throughout the UK. They have become particularly popular amongst touring schools and universities.

If you would like to contact SANEline in confidence, please call 0300 304 7000 (open between 4.30pm and 10.30pm, every day of the year). For more information on SANE, please visit our website at

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