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Time for action on mental health, launch event is told

Published: Wednesday 01 Feb 2017

Action - not words - was the challenge at yesterday's (Tuesday Jan 31) launch of ‘Thrive West Midlands' - the West Midlands Combined Authority's (WMCA) Mental Health Commission action plan.

Thrive West Midlands sets out a series of ambitious actions and pledges the commission has produced with the aim of changing lives in the region.

You can download copies of the action plan here.

Cllr Pete Lowe (left) of WMCA with Norman Lamb MP at the Thrive West Midlands launch

Cllr Pete Lowe (left) of WMCA with Norman Lamb MP at the Thrive West Midlands launch

The plan is a priority project for the combined authority and is the result of months of work by the WMCA Mental Health Commission, together with a Citizens Jury of people with personal experience of mental ill health.             

WMCA also commissioned research into poor mental health and its impact on the public sector - notably by the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham, in partnership with the Centre for Mental Health.

The report highlights several priority actions, including:

  • Early intervention 
  • Decent housing 
  • Helping people into work and off benefits 
  • Keeping people out of the criminal justice system 

Chair Norman Lamb MP told the audience at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham that he was proud of the West Midlands for leading the way in this work which had made it part of a global network.

I was asked to produce recommendations to improve the lives of people but I have seen recommendations made and then nothing changes," he said.

Instead we have come up with concrete actions that people have signed up to and I think it is brilliant that the West Midlands has taken the enlightened decision to do this.

I want this to be the start of a journey for the West Midlands. The moral and the economic case for acting is unanswerable and the work we plan to develop would be internationally significant.

The West Midlands will be part of a global network of leading cities and city regions which are doing major projects on mental health - this will be something this region can be very proud of

Mental health lead for the WMCA Cllr Pete Lowe echoed the call for action, not words, and promised the combined authority would be holding organisations to their pledges.

Cllr Lowe also paid tribute to the work of the late deputy chair of the CA, Cllr Darren Cooper, who was a driving force behind setting up the commission.

The audience also heard from Steve Gilbert, a lived experience consultant to the commission.

He said: People with mental illness in our region have been let down and I applaud the commission for inviting someone with my experience of mental illness onto the panel.

I am so proud of the West Midlands for rising to this challenge.

WMCA has identified improvements to mental health treatment as a priority area where it can deliver significant public sector reform.

The action plan is informed by recommendations from people with personal experience of mental health issues as well as top level academic research.

Supt Sean Russell has been seconded from West Midlands Police as implementation director for the commission.

He will manage delivery of the action plan that aims to make a huge difference to West Midlands' people with mental health problems by reducing the impact of mental ill health, building happy, thriving communities and supporting those who experience mental ill health.

The West Midlands Mental Health Commission Citizens Jury, a panel of people with personal experience of mental health issues, has helped to shape plans for future care provision in a new partnership approach.

They will continue to work as a group, now known as The West Midlands Cooperative, to make sure the actions are implemented.

Join the conversation on Twitter @WestMids_CA using #ThriveWM

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