Local councils and health and wellbeing boards can improve mental health in their communities.
It is estimated that some £30 billion is lost nationally each year due to poor mental health. Due, in no small part, to poor work productivity and extended or frequent sick leave. This figure would be further increased , if delayed discharges from hospital, due to associated depression as a co-morbidity were considered.
The important contribution health and wellbeing boards can make to address this issue, could significantly reduce this socioeconomic burden, as well as, vitally improving patient’s lives. Statutory health and wellbeing boards (created by The Health and Social Care Act 2012) join locally elected councillors, key commissioners, public health directors, social services and a representative of local HealthWatch (the new patients’ representative body). As such they can bring a cohesive and targeted approach when considering both poor mental health recovery and how to effectively support good mental health, which is at the very centre of the commissioning process
Health and wellbeing boards can promote commissioning services that will not only help with initial recovery from episodes of poor mental health, but importantly work towards longer term integration and continued recovery, so those with poor mental health can become fully participating members of society. This could lead to the transformation of the mental health services, with integrated services and resources effectively promoting better quality of life, reduce inequalities and support good mental health. The Mental Health Network and the Centre for Mental Health feel improvements can be genuinely achieved in this way. The recent project ‘Implementing Recovery – Organisational Change’ (ImROC) suggests how public mental health and sensible proactive commissioning can support opportunities for developing a life beyond poor mental health.
Moreover, by emphasizing a ‘public mental health’ agenda Paddy Cooney, director of South West Development Centre feels integrated services made possible by the new health and wellbeing boards will be especially beneficial. These boards will know the communities they work in best, and can focus commissioning to provide support where it is best needed and in a way that is most effective.
It is hoped that this new approach of combined care within an integrated frame-work, (that could include mental health service providers, employers, local education centres, social services, housing providers and even addiction services), will provide a comprehensive improved infrastructure that promotes good mental health. The implementation of a mental health framework to promote good mental health and the interaction of health and wellbeing boards have resulted in great expectations that this highly important area will be addressed through improved focused commissioning.
Dr. Iseult Roche