Good mental health is essential for a healthy and prosperous society. Unfortunately, it is easier to focus on what happens when a person becomes mentally ill, and how the health service intervenes, rather than how to keep our communities mentally well in the first place. It is essential to prevent mental health issues arising, intervening early if problems do start surfacing, and helping people manage their lives going forward.
- Despite rising demand, mental health services have been reduced for many years at all levels. We therefore fully support the Government’s aim of ensuring parity of esteem between mental and physical health. To achieve this, significant investment in mental health services is needed, with a focus on early intervention and support for recovery through integrated community based services.
- Improving and maintaining good mental health for residents is a key priority for councils. Poor mental health can affect any of us at any stage of our lives. Intervening early to help prevent issues from escalating can dramatically improve an individual’s life chances and save money in the longer term.
- We welcome the Government’s focus on mental health as a national priority and believe that councils have a fundamental role to play in improving mental health outcomes in our communities. The health and care systems are interdependent and councils can be a powerful resource if they are given greater power over the commissioning of services, adequately funded and their role in meeting the mental health needs of people is fully understood by the NHS.
- Councils face a £7.8 billion overall shortfall by 2025. A range of services that contribute to the wider determinants of mental health are currently underfunded, these include housing, leisure, green spaces, and culture. This makes it more difficult to promote mental wellness within communities.
- Helping children and young people fulfil their potential is a key ambition for all councils. A survey conducted by the LGA in November 2017 showed that giving children the best start in life was the top ambition for 88 per cent local leaders.
- Increased investment in children and young people’s mental health services is urgently needed. In particular, local areas need to receive the full £1.7 billion of funding promised for the implementation of Future in Mind and the reforms stated in the Government’s green paper Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision.
- The LGA’s Bright Futures campaign highlights the early intervention and prevention work that councils across the country are doing to support our children and young people.
- We welcome the new ministerial responsibility for suicide prevention. Councils take their responsibility to prevent suicide seriously. As part of their work with health partners and the voluntary and community sectors, all councils in England now have a local suicide prevention strategy prepared or in development .