The mental health of Gloucestershire’s communities is being made a priority by local health and community partners.

In line with national policies to both prevent mental illness and improve the care available, a number of initiatives are underway.

These include:

  • Investing in Let’s Talk, the county’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapy service, to help those experiencing common conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression
  • Enhancing the support provided to those in mental health crisis, including better links with the emergency services
  • The opening of a wellbeing house in partnership with national charity Mind and funding extended hours at the Crisis Café in Gloucester so people can benefit from non-clinical support and feel less isolated
  • Improved support for children and young people, so that mental health issues can be addressed and treated at a young age
  • Closer working between GPs and mental health professionals
  • Offering more opportunities and advice on ‘self-care’, so that people are able to take steps to avoid mental health conditions or take action at the early signs
  • Introduction of a new perinatal mental health service for expectant and new mothers

Chris Fear, Medical Director for 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in Gloucestershire, said much was being done to improve access to services and enhance support.

He said: “Earlier this year, the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health was published nationally, and it emphasised the importance of treating mental health in the same way that we treat physical health.

“Mental health has long been the ‘poor relation’ in the health service nationally, but locally we, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and other partners have been working together proactively for many years. It’s now recognised nationally that mental health needs to be more openly discussed and we will be building on this in Gloucestershire to ensure the support available is enhanced and better promoted.

“One in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year and many of these problems start in childhood. In fact, one in 10 children has a diagnosable condition, including, for example, depression, anxiety, or conduct disorder.

“When we realise the huge impact mental health has on quality of life, the link between mental health issues and physical health, the huge cost to the economy of people being unable to work due to mental illness and our suicide rate to mention just a few examples, the need to address mental health is paramount.”

Dr Tristan Lench, Clinical Lead for Mental Health Services at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“There is significant momentum locally to build on recent developments and make a real difference in mental health care and support.

Through partnership working, we are aiming to ensure that people with mental health problems can access the right advice, information and support when they need it most.

Investing in mental health services and support is a key theme throughout Gloucestershire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan from ill health prevention through to joined up, timely crisis care.”

Cllr Kathy Williams, cabinet member for long term care at Gloucestershire County Council, said:

“Improving services for people with mental health problems is a key priority for both the county Council and the NHS in Gloucestershire.  This plan will put in place a new partnership approach that will make a huge difference to the help and support people can get when they’ve got a problem.  It will make a real change for the better and really help to ensure people have the confidence to seek help when they need it.

“During the coming year I will be continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure we’re doing all we can to signpost people to sources of support.”

Delivering the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health is one of the priorities contained within Gloucestershire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan, alongside other key mental health priorities.

To read more about the STP and find out about how you can get involved, visit the STP website at: