The Local Government Association (LGA) has published a joint report today with the Centre for Mental Health, calling for urgent investment into mental health recovery in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This should come in the form of funding for councils to spend with local partners, including the voluntary and community sector for successful recovery planning, according to the report.
Schools reopening, workers returning from furlough, people who have been shielding and the economic and housing consequences will all have an impact on the wellbeing of residents.
Mental health problems currently cost UK employers £35bn a year in sickness absence, reduced productivity and staff turnover, this and further research has prompted the report to call for a ‘shift in national focus’ towards a locally-led approach to supporting mental wellbeing in people’s lives.
2018/19 research found that children from the poorest 20% of households are four times as likely to have serious mental health difficulties by the age of 11 than those from the wealthiest 20%, highlighting the need for four common principles to tackle this set out in the report.
These are; making Public mental health everybody’s business, making it the responsibility of every part of the council and the wider community, collaboration between councils and the NHS and community groups, a place-based approach to encourage residents and organisations to be more involved in the wellbeing agenda and a more holistic approach with strategies to tackle the determinants of these issues.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Good mental health is in everyone’s interest, especially as we look to move into the next phase of the pandemic.
“The lockdown had a profound impact on everyone, leaving many of us unable to go to work or school, meet family and friends, go to the shops or take part in leisure and cultural activities. The very things that support our mental wellbeing and which we often took for granted, were suddenly taken away.
“Councils have always had an important role in improving and maintaining people’s mental wellness, from childhood to old age, but coronavirus has proven the value of this more than ever.
“Our mental health is so closely linked with other essential areas of our lives, including housing, employment, social inclusion and economic development. Councils are uniquely placed to use their services to connect all parts of this system together and help ensure the country is prepared for the future.
“As this report states, we need to refocus our policies and funding towards these preventative local services, to help reduce health inequalities and ensure better mental health for all.”
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