New proposals on preventing mental illness

Proposals also include training teachers to spot early warning signs of mental illness among pupils, and a White Paper on the Mental Health Act.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils already make a significant contribution to the mental wellbeing of their local communities through providing libraries, parks and leisure centres that help to improve people’s general mental wellbeing, as well as helping people to live fulfilling lives beyond diagnosis and treatment.

“This is in addition to commissioning services such as supported housing, substance and alcohol abuse and money advice that help people in vulnerable circumstances.

“The extra funding announced to strengthen and deliver local suicide prevention plans is a clear endorsement of councils’ locally driven approach and a recognition that, by working together and supporting one another, we can reduce rates of suicide and save lives.

“It is also important that the commitment to overhaul the Mental Health Act is matched by a commitment to invest more in the community mental health services that prevent people from reaching crisis point in the first place and support people to recover.”

He added: “We support plans to train teachers and social workers in spotting signs of mental ill-health, as well as the new mental health units that schools can refer to.

“However, we still need onsite counselling services in every school and increased investment in the school nurse workforce, as this would help ensure children can access the support as early as they need without being turned away, as well as reduce overall demand on specialist services.

“To achieve true parity of care between mental and physical health, we need a root and branch overhaul of mental health services, which focuses on prevention and early intervention, particularly for children and young people.”

The LGA and the Association of Directors of Public Health have been awarded £600,000 in sector-led improvement funding to help reduce and prevent incidents of suicide in communities, by helping councils share best practice, advice and support.

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