Eradicating mental health problems amongst future generations should be THE priority for council strategy

31 October 2017

York Green Party welcome the fact a city-wide Mental Health Strategy is being developed, saying it is long overdue. However they recently responded to the draft strategy consultation that it contains neither a statement on the importance of tackling the causes of mental health problems nor time-sensitive action plans. Young Green activist, Sam Biram, argues that to reduce suicide levels in York and to improve mental health support for the LGBTQIA+ community, young people in the youth justice system and students, who make up 15% of our population, we need to know exactly how objectives will be met and how outcomes will be measured.

In regards to the strategy’s approach to employment, Mr Biram has said

“We are not clear why people with mental health problems should be ‘helped into work’ only via the voluntary and community sectors – surely all partners should be contributing to this, if it is the right outcome for the individual.”

Councillor Denise Craghill highlights the mismatch between the council’s stated vision for better mental health compared to the reality of the proposals. Two issues especially are unclear, she says “ the reported results of the Health & Wellbeing Strategy consultation, in which a significant majority of people said there is a need to ensure better inpatient facilities, do not match with the focus in the draft mental health strategy on placing more emphasis on support ‘in the community’. Secondly, a commitment to improve services for young mothers and children is very welcome but how does this fit with the lack of a Mother & Baby unit in York and Harrogate?”

The use of the term ‘support in the community’ is also challenged. The Green Group are calling for answers to the following questions:

• how much ‘wrap around care’ can be provided by underfunded and ill-defined ‘community services’ or volunteers such as family, neighbours and community groups?

• Are significant improvements to levels of provision ‘in the community’, including far quicker access to ‘talking therapies’, going to be forthcoming?

• Is there a clear plan to improve funding, which has already suffered reductions for carers and respite, and to improve training and professional development for community-based mental health workers?

Cllr Craghill emphasises that the objective of “less in-patients in hospital is an organisational need, not a service-user need and the strategy must focus on the latter.”