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01.02.17

West Midlands leads the way with ‘unprecedented’ mental health plan

The West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA’s) Mental Health Commission has designed an integrated action plan to improve the mental health of people in the region.

The combined authority’s plan, ‘Thrive West Midlands’, has engaged with local NHS organisations, the DWP, the voluntary sector and other local bodies to develop a joined-up approach to reduce the impact of mental ill health, which the authority says is costing the region £12.6bn a year.

The WMCA’s plan has been met with praise from NHS mental health specialists who have called it an “unprecedented example” for other mental health services to follow.

“We know that to reduce the impact of mental ill health in this region, we not only have to improve the treatment of those who are already ill, but we must seek to prevent ill health and a deterioration of health, and promote good mental health and wellbeing,” said Norman Lamb MP, former health minister and the chair of the WMCA’s Mental Health Commission.

“I want this to be a start of a journey for the West Midlands. I want to challenge this region to lead the way in demonstrating how we can use public money and private resources more effectively to build strong, happy communities.”

Thrive West Midlands will follow five main themes, such as the support of working people with mental health issues by launching a West Midlands Workplace Wellbeing Commitment and trialling an innovative ‘Wellbeing Premium’, a tax incentive for employers who show their commitment to staff wellbeing.

The action plan also aims to offer a Housing First service for the homeless, more widespread use of the Mental Health Treatment Requirement which supports offenders to address the causes of their offending, and better mental health support for people as they leave prison.

The WMCA is also looking to develop wider approaches to mental health and care in the region, such as launching a Zero Suicide Ambition and ending out-of-area mental health hospital placements, along with community engagement schemes including training up to 500,000 citizens in mental health first aid.

NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network (MHN), which represents over 90% of all NHS trusts delivering mental health services, has lauded the WMCA’s plan for its innovation, saying that pressure on mental health services has been an “obstacle to change”.

“This plan is an unprecedented example of a region unifying very different services to improve mental health,” said Sean Duggan, chief executive of the MHN. “With so many partners supporting it, and a clear plan of action, this will be an essential test case for how other regions might also innovate and join-up services.”

Duggan also supported the holistic approach to the plan, citing evidence that integrated changes to services like housing and schooling can “radically benefit” mental health.

The MHN added that it will look to share the learnings of Thrive West Midlands to improve mental health services across the country.

Comments

Phil Davis   02/02/2017 at 11:15

A good idea but: 1. why does the WMCA Mental Health Commission exclude mental health service providers? 2. How do these plans sit with cuts in NHS and local government funding by Government and the removal of whole areas of local services for the vulnerable? Unless this crisis is reversed it's a wish list.

Adam   02/02/2017 at 11:32

totally agree with you phil

Myles Hodgson   02/02/2017 at 14:51

We wish West Midlands every success with their mental health plan. The more trusts try these initiatives, the less suicide will be just "accepted." Not sure about the 'unprecedented' claim. Please see this link: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/us-style-scheme-help-prevent-suicides-8499482

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