Local authorities have a key role in implementing the mental health strategy and improving mental health in their communities. We (see right) want to support and encourage local authorities to take a proactive approach to this crucial issue. So we’ve set up the Challenge.
We are asking all upper tier local authorities to take up The Mental Health Challenge which sets out ten actions that will enable councils to promote mental health across all of their business.
- Appoint an elected member as ‘mental health champion’ across the council
- Identify a lead officer for mental health to link in with colleagues across the council
- Follow the implementation framework for the mental health strategy where it is relevant to the council’s work and local needs
- Work to reduce inequalities in mental health in our community
- Work with the NHS to integrate health and social care support
- Promote wellbeing and initiate and support action on public mental health for example through our joint health and wellbeing strategy
- Tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health in our community
- Encourage positive mental health in our schools, colleges and workplaces
- Proactively engage and listen to people of all ages and backgrounds about what they need for better mental health
- Sign up to the Time to Change pledge.
As a first step, we are asking councils to appoint a member ‘champion’ for mental health and in return we will offer those champions support and information to help them in this important and exciting new role.
Support from national organisations
National mental health organisations will support local authorities that take on the challenge by:
- Providing resources (for example published evidence, expert opinion and briefings) to help councils to take local action in support of the strategy.
- Offering networking opportunities and peer support for mental health champions, including an annual meeting and through use of electronic media.
- Recognising and acknowledging publicly the councils that sign up to the challenge and the ‘champions’ they appoint.
The member champion
Member ‘champions’ may be a cabinet member or health and wellbeing board member or they might be ‘backbench’ councillors. Enthusiasm and commitment are more important than formal position in becoming a member champion. What is crucial is that an elected member takes on this role in order to influence the full range of the authority’s activities and responsibilities. The role would be distinctive from the formal responsibility of the lead member for social care, though it is possible that the same individual could do both.
The role of champion will be defined locally but key activities might include:
- Raising awareness of mental health issues in the development of council policies and strategies, and in public forums;
- Ensuring the overview and scrutiny committee have a view to mental health in their workplans;
- Leading discussions on mental health issues with NHS organisations in the local area;
- Speaking with schools, businesses and community groups about mental health;
- Linking with mental health service users and voluntary groups locally to understand their needs and concerns;
- Tackling myths and misperceptions about mental health in the local community.