Mental Health Commission paving the way for transforming delivery of mental health services



Plans to revolutionise the way people with mental health needs are cared for across the West Midlands are set to be made public this week.

Norman Lamb MP, chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Mental Health Commission, will outline the work of the commission at a Combined Authority meeting.

Since its launch last year, the Mental Health Commission Panel has concentrated its efforts in identifying ways to transform mental health and wellbeing services in an effort to re-balance them and reduce the demand for public services and improve outcomes for people. But the review seeks to look beyond improvements in health services and look at the ways employers, the criminal justice system and the housing sector can play a role in supporting people with mental health issues, and intervening early to prevent the escalation of problems.

Mental health is not just a health service or local authority issue, it needs a multi-agency, holistic approach. Providing care once an issue is identified is not enough. The WMCA review will make recommendations to help people with mental health problems to secure and stay in employment, divert them from the criminal justice system and avoid homelessness. The commission’s focus is to keep those people dealing with mental health issue in good health and essentially, to help them feel they are leading productive and valued lives.

At the AGM this Friday (June 10), Mr Lamb will present and summarise the commission’s work which includes setting up a steering group made up of representatives of the local NHS, adult social care, housing associations, third sector groups, DWP and the police.

It has also recently carried out a series of events to gauge the opinion of people who receive and deliver mental health services across the region. The resulting Citizen’s Jury is made up of people who are living with or have experienced mental health issues and their family members and carers. They are a good cross-section of the West Midlands, drawn from a range of ages, ethnicities, income bands and towns. Having already held eight sessions they presented their recommendations to the commission in May and will continue to meet and play a part in the implementation of the commission’s recommendations.

Mr Lamb will focus on the commission’s work around emerging recommendations and key lines of enquiry.  The recommendations will feed into a final report that will begin a process of change with a view to making the mental health system work more effectively.

The report is likely to recommend the system adopts high level commitments in relation to mental health including no ‘out of area’ mental health placements, no use of police custody, reducing the use of restraint and seclusion and diverting people from the criminal justice system.

Norman Lamb MP, chair of the Mental Health Commission, said:

“Nationally, the current system is broken and what we’re seeing is waste, not just in financial terms, but in terms of people not being able to live the full, productive lives they deserve because of a mental health issue. It is an economic and moral failure.

“But we are not daunted. We know that this commission has a significant job to do in order to drive change and bring about improved services for people with mental health issues across our region and beyond and we want to see and make change. 

“We already have a strong buy-in from local organisations including the NHS and we take very seriously the comments and evidence we have received from members of the public as we move the work of the commission forward.”

To find out more about the Mental Health Commission visit the WMCA website

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