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2. Promote and enable positive mental health and wellbeing through the life-course

Why is this important?

Mental health and wellbeing have a great impact on our ability to live happy and fulfilling lives. Having good emotional health and resilience helps children and young people to cope positively with stress and adversity, and supports them in doing well at school. Good mental health is also important in enabling people to sustain relationships, participate in work, and make positive lifestyle choices. Having good friends, neighbours and/or community links for example, can act as a buffer against social isolation and loneliness, helping people to stay well.

Mental and physical wellbeing are closely linked; people with poor physical health are at higher risk of experiencing mental health problems and people with poor mental health are more likely to have poor physical health. People with mental health problems are more likely to smoke, be overweight, use drugs and drink alcohol to excess, have a disrupted education, be unemployed, take time off work, fall into poverty, and be over-represented in the criminal justice system. It is therefore crucial that mental health is given equal priority to physical health in order to improve health and reduce inequalities in the population.

Nationally there is wide acknowledgement that mental health services have been underfunded for decades, and too many people have received no help at all. Locally there is increasing demand for inpatient and community mental health services, including the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. There are gaps in services and there is a need to invest more. At the same time a local needs assessment has identified the need for more community-based support. Stakeholders also think that opportunities exist to do more work in schools and colleges, to involve children and young people, and to promote mental health wellbeing more widely. 

What are the challenges?

  • At least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life and one in six adults has a mental health problem at any one time. In South Gloucestershire this means around 36,000 people are currently living with a mental health problem.
  • National estimates suggest that in South Gloucestershire 4,800 children and young people aged 5-19 years have a mental health disorder. An estimated 1,240 school aged children and young people (5-16 years) have an emotional disorder (e.g. anxiety and depression) and 1,895 have a conduct disorder (characterised by awkward, troublesome, aggressive and anti-social behaviours).
  • Self-harm and suicide rates have been rising over the last decade and are similar to the national average. Between 2013 and 2015 there were 65 deaths from suicide in South Gloucestershire. Males have a twofold to threefold increased risk of suicide compared with women.
  • It is estimated in those aged over 65, between 5 and 16% are lonely and 12% feel isolated.
  • People with mental health problems experience significant inequalities; the excess premature mortality rate for adults with a serious mental health illness in South Gloucestershire is 320.7 – similar to the England average. 

What do we want to achieve?

We want all children, young people and adults living in South Gloucestershire to be able to enjoy good mental health and emotional wellbeing and for individuals, families and communities to feel empowered to promote and sustain their own mental health. We want all those who experience mental health problems to be able to get  the right help and support at the right time and in the right place for them.

How will the Health and Wellbeing Board take action?

Delivery of this area for collective action will be through:

  • The Health and Wellbeing Board acting as a systems leader and advocating for actions that promote and enable positive mental health and wellbeing for all.
  • Holding the Children, Young People and Families Partnership and the Children, Young People Mental Health Whole System Group to account to deliver South Gloucestershire’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Well-being Strategy 2016-21.
  • Holding the Mental Health Partnership to account to deliver the Adult Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Strategy 2017-21 and Suicide Prevention Plan.

The Health and Wellbeing Board will:

  1. Support initiatives that promote mental health and wellbeing, and build resilience in children and young people, including through developing healthy relationships.
  2. Give equal value to mental and physical health so those experiencing mental health problems can access evidence-based services and support at the right time and in the right place for them.
  3. Champion and support community and workplace action to protect and improve mental health and wellbeing, prevent suicide, reduce social isolation, and challenge stigma.

Adopt a ‘mental health in all policies’ approach by ensuring all policy recognises mental and physical health needs as equally important and addresses inequalities between mental and physical health.

Action taken on the other areas of focus will also support people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. There is a strong link between getting people more active and improved mental health and wellbeing for example. 

How will we measure our success?

  • Self-reported wellbeing
  • Emergency Hospital Admissions for Intentional Self-Harm
  • Depression recorded prevalence
  • Suicide rate (persons)
  • Adults in contact with secondary mental health services who live in stable and appropriate accommodation
  • Gap in the employment rate for those in contact with secondary mental health services and the overall employment rate
  • Excess under 75 mortality rate in adults with severe mental illness
  • Social Isolation