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Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board makes ground-breaking commitment to tackle poor mental health in the county

Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board has committed to tackling poor mental health in Suffolk by signing up to the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health from Public Health England (PHE).

Working closely with PHE, Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board is making significant steps towards promoting good mental health and preventing mental health problems.

One in six adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in their lifetime. This is influenced by the environment in which we are born, grow, live and work, meaning many of these problems can be prevented.

Having good mental health is important because it can help us to be more resilient, feel good and function well, have more positive relationships with those around us and deal with difficult times now and in the future.

The Prevention Concordat marks the first time agencies across the community and care sectors have come together to make prevention a priority for mental health. So far, 92 organisations representing all sectors have signed up and committed to action.

The commitment from Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board includes work to improve people’s mental health, including preventing suicide, social prescribing initiatives and a pilot for a new online resource supporting young people aged 16-24. 

Cllr Tony Goldson, Chairman of Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “It’s important to recognise that we all have mental health. All of us have good days and bad, and from time to time will need a bit of extra support. We want to raise awareness of all aspects of mental health and encourage people to talk about their own emotional wellbeing and experiences. 

“Signing up to the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health reflects our commitment to improve the mental health of the people of Suffolk and to work together to prevent mental ill health. It is a great achievement, especially considering we are among only a handful of health and wellbeing boards to do so.”

Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, said: “Strengthening partnership working between our organisations is one of the most effective ways we have of reaching out to more people earlier.

“While the NHS locally continues its commitment to delivering effective mental health services, the solutions to poor mental health are to be found all around us, including inspirational educational settings, good quality housing and meaningful employment.

“That is why I am pleased to be part of this commitment to change. Signing up to the prevention concordat is such a significant step forward in achieving transformation to the county’s mental health.”

Promoting good mental health is everyone’s responsibility and can only be achieved if organisations – including local authorities, NHS trusts, businesses, local communities, and religious groups – work together at local and national level.

Clare Perkins, Head of Mental Health at PHE, said: “We’re delighted that the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board 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.”

By signing up to the concordat, Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board is not only showing public leadership in addressing mental health problems in local communities; they are also putting effective prevention planning arrangements in place, using resources from PHE.

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.

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