Norman Lamb MP announced as chair of mental health commission for the West Midlands Combined Authority

Norman Lamb MP, the former Minister of State for Care and Support, has agreed to chair a West Midlands Commission on Mental Health.

Norman Lamb MP, the former Minister of State for Care and Support, has agreed to chair a West Midlands Commission on Mental Health.

The Commission proposal was first announced when the emerging West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) published its Statement of Intent at the beginning of July. Local Authority Chief Executives from the region had identified that poor mental health and wellbeing is a significant driver of demand for public services and has a negative impact on the economy.

Mr Lamb, MP for North Norfolk whose Ministerial responsibilities included adult social care, integration and mental health, will lead a panel that includes Doctor Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England, Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England and Dame Carol Black, former government health advisor and international expert on health, work and wellbeing.

The Commission will consider the specific contribution that public sector reform and devolved responsibility could make to the mental health and wellbeing of the population of the WMCA area.

Initially it will look to assess the scale of poor mental health and wellbeing across the area and its cost and impact on public sector services, the economy and communities. It will also review national and international research and best practice to establish what works best in addressing the impact that poor mental health and wellbeing has on public services.

Once fully established, the Commission will consider the work currently underway in the West Midlands that is looking to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the population. This includes initiatives by Headstart, who have services in Birmingham and Wolverhampton designed to help young people aged between 10 and 14 cope with the pressures of modern life and NHS Vanguards, who have the national lead on transforming care for patients in towns, cities and counties across England.

The Commission will start work next month (October 2015) and will report next summer. It will aim to make recommendations to both government and the WMCA in relation to:

  • How public services should be transformed in the West Midlands, within current resources
  • How resources currently spent on supporting people with mental ill health can be re-directed to measures that keep people mentally well and enable recovery in people with poor mental health and wellbeing
  • The potential for devolved powers from government to the West Midlands for mental health and wellbeing


Mr Lamb said:

“I'm very honoured and thrilled to have been asked to undertake this work.

The moral and the economic case for improving mental health care is overwhelming. Mental ill health costs the economy up to £100bn a year and the impact on individuals and their families is incalculable.

It's great that the West Midlands' local authorities are taking a lead on this. And the involvement and interest shown by NHSE (NHS England) is enormously positive. We have the opportunity to offer guidance and to make a positive difference not just to the West Midlands but to the rest of the country.”

Councillor Darren Cooper, Vice Chair of the Shadow West Midlands Combined Authority and a former mental health nurse, who is Leader Champion for the Commission, said:

“The health and wellbeing of our population is of immense importance and I am delighted that a politician of Norman's standing and experience has agreed to chair our Commission.

It will be critically important to involve those who have experience of mental health issues and I know that the Commission will want to hear from those working in mental health services and other parts of the health and care system, including the tied sector, together with employers.”


  • The West Midlands Combined Authority is based on the geography of the three Local Enterprise Partnerships which cover the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham and Solihull. The WMCA is being led by the seven metropolitan councils: Birmingham, Dudley Sandwell , Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
  • For further information contact Jan Jennings at - mobile 07885 235566