Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Minister visits Frank Bruno Foundation mental health initiative [December 2023]

The press release issued by the Department of Health and Social Care on 21 December 2023.

Minister Maria Caulfield celebrates the work of the Frank Bruno Foundation in supporting people with mental ill health get back into work.

  • Mental Health Minister lauds former professional boxer’s efforts to help those with mental ill health stay in work via programme of controlled non-contact boxing classes
  • Visit comes as government unveils unprecedented £795 million of additional funding to support thousands of people struggling with mental health back into work over next 5 years
  • Government is dedicated to boosting nation’s mental health and helping people nationwide to stay healthy, get off benefits and move into work

Pioneering efforts by the former World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Frank Bruno, who is helping people with mental ill health back into work, have been welcomed by Health Minister Maria Caulfield during a visit to the Frank Bruno Foundation in Northampton.

It follows the government unveiling an unprecedented £795 million of additional funding so thousands of people can be helped back into work over the next 5 years, keeping them out of poverty, improving their wellbeing and raising their living standards.

Funding will expand NHS Talking Therapies, so an additional 384,000 people will benefit from courses of treatment over the next 5 years and increasing the number of sessions available.

The former professional boxer has spoken openly about how exercise has played a vital role in his battle with mental health challenges. He set up the Frank Bruno Foundation in 2017, offering wellbeing programmes and structured non-contact boxing sessions for anyone over the age of 10 years who is experiencing problems with mental ill health.

A stay in work scheme is central to the foundation’s work – aimed at helping professionals with mental health difficulties stay in work and prevent long-term sickness. And an innovative wrap-around service helps professionals deal with other contributing struggles such as housing, money worries, addiction, family difficulties and bereavement.

Mental Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, said:

Frank and his team are doing a great job at getting people fighting fit through boxing classes, using innovative techniques to support local people with their mental health and wellbeing. In particular, it’s great to see his brilliant ‘stay in work’ scheme.

This government is determined to help as many people as possible stay healthy, get off benefits, and move into work. That’s why we’ve just unveiled £795 million of new funding to provide more mental health treatments nationwide and help those with mental health conditions stay in or find work.

Former professional boxer, Frank Bruno, said:

I am honoured that the Frank Bruno Foundation received a visit from Maria Caulfield. We are providing a unique service to the mental health community in Northamptonshire and it is having a really positive impact.

The minister was really interested in our work and I was keen to hear how the government is looking to improve the future of mental health care.

I was delighted the minister got into the boxing ring with me and pledged to continue the fight against mental health challenges. If there was somewhere like this foundation available when I was ill it could have really helped, so we need to see more services like this made available.

Mum of one, Jo, from Northampton, who has bipolar disorder, said:

This place is like a family and has really helped me. I came to the foundation because I suffer from bipolar and coming here has really helped with my confidence and self-esteem. I have used the coping mechanisms I have learned here to help me in my life.

Deni first came to the foundation in May 2021 and is now a full-time member of staff who works as a mental health development officer.

Deni from Northampton, who suffered crippling anxiety attacks and struggled to leave his home, said:

I was really lucky to come here and enrol in programmes – and I now love helping other people. This is a safe place that tests your boundaries but where you also feel comfortable.

With its additional funding, the government is boosting 4 key programmes – NHS Talking Therapies, Individual Placement and Support, Restart and Universal Support – to benefit up to 1.1 million people over the next 5 years and help those with mental or physical health conditions stay in or find work.

NHS Talking Therapies provides evidence-based psychological therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy, for treatment of mild and moderate mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders.

The additional £795 million investment will also fund an additional 100,000 Individual Placement and Support places over 5 years, which will help people with severe mental illness gain and retain paid employment.