Mental Health Foundation Chief Exec to lead Mental Health and Smoking Partnership

03 August 2022
2 min read

The Mental Health and Smoking Partnership, coordinated by Action on Smoking and Health, is delighted to welcome Mark Rowland chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation as the new co-chair of the partnership. The Mental Health and Smoking Partnership is a coalition of 25 organisations that aim to reduce the disparities in smoking rates between people with and without a mental health condition.

Mark will replace outgoing co-chair Rt Hon Professor Paul Burstow who helped to establish the partnership in 2016 alongside leading addictions expert Professor Ann McNeill, King’s College London. Prof McNeill will continue as co-chair.

Mark will bring his wide range of expertise on mental health to support the work of the partnership. Mark is a non-executive director of the foundation’s subsidiary, Mental Health at Work and sits on the Government’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group and on the Advisory Group for the Royal College of Psychiatry’s Public Mental Health Implementation Centre.

Mark was awarded the President’s Medal by the Royal College of Psychiatry in June 2022 in recognition of the foundation’s work, especially during the pandemic.

Paul has been an asset to the work of the partnership championing the issue nationally and lending his expertise as a former care minister, chair of Tavistock and Portman Mental Health Trust and chair of the Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS.

Professor Ann McNeill, continuing co-chair of the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership said, “It has been a real pleasure to work with Paul over the last six years. Together we have seen the work of the partnership influence the policy agenda, the fruits of which include the current investment from NHS England in supporting smokers in secondary mental health services. His expertise has been crucial to these successes.

“I am delighted to be welcoming Mark as co-chair. Despite progress made in this area, smoking rates remain much higher for those with mental health conditions. Mark will help us to navigate a new programme of work and ensure the partnership’s work continues to be impactful.”

Rt Hon Professor Paul Burstow, departing co-chair said, “The physical health of people with mental health conditions has been an enduring priority for me and the work of the partnership is crucial to ending the injustice of early disease and death among people with mental health conditions.

“While I’m sad to be moving on I am leaving the partnership in great hands. Mark’s valuable perspective on mental health across society will mean the partnership goes from strength to strength.”

Mark Rowland, incoming co-chair, “We need the public and policy makers to understand that smoking not only damages people’s physical health but also their mental health. There are also psychological and social dividends of stopping smoking on top of the physical benefits.

Ending smoking for all will end needless suffering. However, this will not be achieved without a focus and understanding of the mental health implications nationally and locally. I am looking forward to playing my part in securing the changes needed to make smoking obsolete and deliver better mental health for all.”