Thursday, 23 January 2014

Mental health: the need for better services and why we must tackle stigma

At today's meeting of Leicester City Council I will be proposing the following motion. I want to see better mental health services and a continued and unrelenting effort to tackle the stigma associated with mental illness in society.

Passing a council motion won't do that, but it will set out our commitment to take actions that will.

In the past year or so I have attended Mental Health Summits, organised by local organisations and Jon Ashworth MP. There is a real determination in Leicester to see better services and a strengthened approach to mental health and wellbeing. For World Mental Health Day I wrote a column for the Leicester Mercury on why we must tackle stigma and discrimination.

Motion for debate at Leicester City Council, 23 January 2014
Local authorities’ Mental Health Challenge

This council notes:

  • 1 in 6 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • Leicester’s joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy identifies improving mental health and emotional resilience as a key priority.
  • 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 functions, from public health, adult social care and children’s services to housing, planning and public realm.
  • 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 and in challenging stigma.

This council resolves:

  • To sign the Local Authorities Mental Health Challenge run by Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Psychiatrists and Young Minds. We commit to: 

1. Appoint an elected member as “mental health champion” across the council.
2. Identify a “lead officer” for mental health to link in with colleagues across the council.
3. Follow the implementation framework for the mental health strategy where it is relevant to the council’s work and local needs.
4. Work to reduce inequalities in mental health in our community.
5. Work with the NHS to integrate health and social care support.
6. Promote wellbeing and initiate and support action on public mental health.
7. Tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health in our community and to tackle stigma.
8. Encourage positive mental health in our schools, colleges and workplaces.
9. Proactively engage and listen to people of all ages and backgrounds about what they need for better mental health.
10. Sign up to the Time to Change pledge.

Leicester City Council meetings are webcast live so you can view the debate at the Council meeting which starts at 5:00pm.