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Ground-breaking commitment to mental health in the West Midlands

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has committed to a new way of tackling poor mental health in the region by signing up to Public Health England’s (PHE) Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health.

The Thrive West Midlands team has been working closely with PHE and other partners on a ‘whole system’ approach and together they are making significant progress.

PHE’s Concordat is underpinned by an understanding that taking a prevention-focused approach to mental health is shown to make a valuable contribution to achieving a fairer and more equitable society.

It is intended to provide a focus for cross-sector action to deliver a tangible increase in the adoption of public mental health approaches across local authorities, the NHS, public, private and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations, educational institutions and employers.

The Concordat acknowledges the active role played by people with lived experience of mental health problems, individually and through user-led organisations.

This aligns closely with much of the work already being done by the WMCA Thrive programme to promote good mental health and prevent problems, with lived experience experts key to both planning and delivery.

Prevention and early intervention has been high on the agenda since Thrive West Midlands launched in 2017, with the combined authority working with partners from all sectors and convening round-table discussions involving leaders from local and national government, health service, police and fire service, charity and volunteer sector, education and business.

Signatories to the Concordat agree that transformation of the health system needs more focus on prevention and the wider determinants of mental health.

They recognise the need for a shift towards prevention-focused leadership and action throughout the mental health system - and into the wider system – resulting in earlier intervention and help.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said:

“The Prevention Concordat continues the commitment with agencies across our community and care sectors who have come together in this way to make prevention a priority for mental health.

“We have long believed that a holistic, system leadership approach is the way to address the very complex issue of poor mental health.

“This is the natural next step - and it is a big step in the right direction.

“As well as recognising that mental health is as important as physical health, this represents a movement away from stigma and fear and towards achieving a fairer and more equal society.”

WMCA Wellbeing Board chair Cllr Izzi Seccombe said:

“Promoting good mental health is everyone’s responsibility and can only be achieved if organisations across all sectors work together at local and national level.

“This has been a major theme of the Thrive programme throughout and I am delighted we have been able to formally sign up to the Concordat.

“It supports our prevention agenda and means we can put more effective planning arrangements in place, with the help of resources from PHE.”

One in six adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in their lifetime, and these problems can be influenced by their environment - meaning many could be prevented.

Good mental health can help people be more resilient, feel good and function well, have more positive relationships and deal with difficult times.

Lily Makurah, national lead for public mental health at PHE, said:

“We’re delighted that WMCA has joined the growing list of organisations signing up to our Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health.

“This is designed to help communities promote good mental health and prevent mental health problems.

“Through local and national action across sectors, we can all contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing and reducing stigma for everyone.”

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