Mental health at heart of new Nottinghamshire wellbeing strategy to target ‘ticking time bomb’ caused by pandemic

A health and wellbeing strategy aimed at encouraging Nottinghamshire residents to live healthy, happy and longer lives will have plans to boost mental health at its heart, councillors have heard.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 4:17 pm

The strategy, which runs from 2022-26, aims to tackle what one councillor describes as a ‘ticking time bomb’ by addressing rising issues with mental health caused by the Covid pandemic.

A Nottinghamshire Council cabinet meeting heard the new four-year plan is split into nine areas of focus, including specific areas to target mental health issues.

Schools will be provided with funding to upskill staff and create mental health support officers, while more work will be done to enable residents to access rapid services.

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The new strategy will have plans to boost mental health at its heart.

The council says it will also ensure residents and young people are involved in ‘co-production’, working with them to develop policies targeted specifically at improving the county’s mental health.

It follows last year’s Big Notts Survey, which found more than 90 per cent of respondents selected mental health as one of their top four priorities.

About 60 per cent of people responding to the survey listed it as their main priority, followed by healthy weight, people having the best start in life, issues with food insecurity and nutrition, and homelessness.

Other target areas aimed at improving mental health include reducing alcohol and drug dependency, encouraging people to have control over their weight, improving understanding of domestic abuse and helping to get people off the streets.

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Coun Dr John Doddy, council health and wellbeing board chairman, told council cabinet members: “Nobody can have escaped the huge, significant, adverse impact Covid has had on mental health over the last number of years, and the mantra of ‘no health without mental health’ has never been more important.

“The health and wellbeing strategy is such a wide-ranging strategy that touches every community we represent.

“Everybody wants to live happy, healthy, longer lives and in Nottinghamshire, that’s what we want to set out to do.”

Other elements of the plan include ensuring people live to a healthy and higher life expectancy, reducing health inequalities and offering more scope for early intervention on a range of health issues.

There will also be investment in five new local nature reserves, with councillors stating this will enable people to get outdoors – living healthier lives and improving their mental health.

Coun Bruce Laughton, deputy council leader, said: “What I welcome more than anything else is the emphasis on mental health and the importance in the community.

“It is a ticking time bomb that we have to deal with and the level of support required needs the emphasis to be able to improve the situation.”

Coun Michelle Welsh, Labour’s health spokeswoman, welcomed the focus on mental health, but called for more support to be offered in family hubs to provide mental health intervention for parents and their children.

She said: “I’m concerned about the lack of funding this council is set to receive on family hubs and the impact this could possibly have on the way we deliver mental health services for children and young people

“I do welcome members of staff [specifically for mental health] in schools, but it is worth saying schools are very under pressure at the moment with staffing and funding.”

Cabinet members unanimously approved the strategy.