A coalition of mental health charities is launching a new scheme that encourages local authorities to elect one member champion for mental health.
Mind is encouraging councillors across England to sign up to the government-supported Local Authority Mental Health Challenge and become a champion for mental health.
The Challenge, developed by Mind, the Centre for Mental Health, theMental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and YoungMinds has been launched today and supports local authorities to elect one champion councillor for mental health.
Once a councillor becomes a champion, their role will then include raising awareness of mental health problems in the development of council policies and strategies and in public forums, leading discussions on mental health with NHS organisations in their local area, and speaking with schools, businesses and community groups about mental health. They will also be supported by the charities to develop their knowledge about mental health problems by linking with people with personal experience to understand their needs and concerns, and tackle myths and misperceptions.
Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, said:
"We’ve come a long way in tackling the stigma and lack of knowledge around mental illness, but it’s clear that we still have much to do and that is why initiatives like the Local Authority Mental Health Challenge are so important in promoting and improving understanding.
This Government has made improving mental health services a bigger priority than ever before, and we’re determined that mental health is treated with as much importance as physical health in the NHS. Of equal significance is the crucial role that local authorities play on the ground, and that’s why it’s so good to see these councils stepping up to the plate.
I look forward to seeing many more local authorities signing up to the Challenge and continuing the process of integrating mental wellbeing throughout their work."
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
"We are proud to be part of an innovative movement that directly engages with councillors to ensure that mental health is one of their top priorities.
At a time when the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second biggest cause of ill health worldwide by 2020, it is vital that local authorities do more to recognise the true impact of mental health problems in their communities. We want to encourage councillors to sign up, learn more about mental health, and provide a voice for people whose needs are often ignored."
Ten councils have already signed up to the Challenge, including Camden, Dorset, Durham, Nottingham, Islington, Lambeth and Liverpool.
You can find out more about the Local Authority Mental Health Challenge by visiting the website. To find out more about becoming a member champion and signing up to the Challenge contact Andy Bell by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.