Call for Integrated Multi-Agency Approach toTackling Mental Health

June 19, 2015 7:40 PM

Ian Dobie

A profile giving a picture of people's health in Gloucestershire produced by Public Health England at the beginning of this month (June 2015) shows a county that is healthier than the England average, with life expectancy for both men and women higher than the national average.However figures in the report also show concerns over the county's suicide rate and high levels of hospital stays for self-harm.

The newly appointed Liberal Democrat Chair for the County Council's Health & Care Scrutiny Committee and county party Spokesperson for Public Health, Cllr. Iain Dobie (Leckhampton and Warden Hill) commented:

"We may well be healthier as a county, but it is deeply concerning that the figures in terms of the suicide rate and hospital stays for self-harm are rated "significantly worse" than the national average.

"The health profile is designed to help local government and health services understand their community's needs, so that they can work together to improve people's health, which must also include people's mental health.

"A high suicide rate and high levels of hospital stays for self-harm is indicative of a much greater need for our health agencies to work together in improving mental health across the county not just for adults, but children and young people too.

"In February 2014, the Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council called for an additional investment from the Public Health Budget to reduce the rising numbers of Gloucestershire children and young people who deliberately hurt themselves (self-harming).

"I was delighted that an additional £450K was subsequently secured by the Liberal Democrats in the budget settlement for use over 2014-16 to help develop ways to tackle the issue of deliberate self-harm in young people through promoting emotional resilience. A multi-agency approach has been adopted to improve outcomes for young people. I am keen to see what other measures of effectiveness will be put in place this year and for us to start seeing a reduction in the number of young people who self-harm. Early intervention is the key to heading off longer term problems.

"In the meantime, these recent Public Health England figures on self-harm and suicide in adults as well as children reveal an alarming picture of the general mental health of people in Gloucestershire, a wider issue that I believe needs to be addressed through involving health, education, care and housing in a suitably funded multi-agency approach beginning sooner rather than later."