Staffordshire County Council accepted the challenge of playing a crucial role in improving the mental health of everyone in our community following a motion from the Labour opposition group (below) at its Full Council meeting on May 25th. The motion was carried unanimously by the Council.
Moving the motion, Labour Opposition Leader Councillor Sue Woodward (Burntwood North Lichfield) said:
‘The Mental Health Challenge is a call for councils across the country to promote mental health in the terms set out in the motion. As councillors, leaders in our communities, we collectively and individually have a role in ensuring services are there for our residents, promoting mental health and parity of esteem with physical health and removing the stigma of mental health problems.
‘We must be proactive and I hope it won’t just be left to a mental health champion but all of us. One in four experience a mental health problem every year – about 15 members here in this council chamber; about 2000 residents in each County Council Division and I am mindful of staff too,’ said Councillor Woodward.
Supporting the motion, Labour Deputy Opposition Leader Councillor Charlotte Atkins (Leek South) said:
‘It is clear that we are nowhere near achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health services. Although half of all lifetime mental health problems emerge before the age of 14 years, we are not investing enough in early detection and treatment of mental health in schools – only 16 per cent of expenditure on child mental health services goes on early intervention. With local schools now making staff redundancies, mental health is often the first area to lose out.
‘There is also an alarming rise in young mental health patients treated far from home – nearly 70 per cent of child and adolescent admissions were out of area. So they are deprived of family support when they need it most. That situation would not be tolerated for physical illness – so much for parity of esteem!
‘The decision by North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to withdraw free NHS hearing aids last year demonstrates that even the CCG discounted the implications for mental health. To save a measly £110,000 a year, the CCG has jeopardised the mental well being of hundreds of elderly people denying them the social interaction that guards against isolation and depression. Yet they are responsible for commissioning all our health services’, said Councillor Atkins.
Also supporting the motion, Councillor Kyle Robinson (Talke and Red Street Newcastle) said:
‘I have seen how suicide has affected the community I represent. The problem is on the increase in Newcastle-under-Lyme and in other parts of Staffordshire. Men in the UK aged 20-49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death. This is more than cancer, road accidents and even heart disease.
‘These figures are absolutely tragic and yet we fail to discuss this issue enough. Our County Council can do much more to reach out to our local communities and to make sure people have the information they need to access mental health services and support groups. We can all play a part in tackling mental health by sharing information and talking to each other. People must know they are not alone in their struggles.’ said Councillor Robinson.
Labour’s motion to Staffordshire County Council Full Council 25 May 2017
This council notes:
- 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
- The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second most common health condition worldwide by 2020.
- Mental ill health costs some £105 billion each year in England alone.
- People with a severe mental illness die up to 20 years younger than their peers in the UK.
- There is often a circular relationship between mental health and issues such as housing, employment, family problems or debt.
This council believes:
- As a local authority we have a crucial role to play in improving the mental health of everyone in our community and tackling some of the widest and most entrenched inequalities in health.
- Mental health should be a priority across all the local authority’s areas of responsibility, including housing, community safety and planning.
- All councillors, whether members of the Executive or Scrutiny and in our community and casework roles, can play a positive role in championing mental health on an individual and strategic basis.
This council resolves:
- To sign the Local Authorities’ Mental Health Challenge run by Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Providers Forum, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Psychiatrists and YoungMinds.
- We commit to appoint an elected member as ‘mental health champion’ across the council.
- We will seek to identify a member of staff within the council to act as ‘lead officer’ for mental health.
- The council will also:
- Support positive mental health in our community, including in local schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces.
- Work to reduce inequalities in mental health in our community.
- Work with local partners to offer effective support for people with mental health needs.
- Tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health in our community.
- Proactively listen to people of all ages and backgrounds about what they need for better mental health.
- Sign up to the Time to Change pledge