Suffolk councillors pledge future mental health support

One individual has receieved a lifetime ban from Endeavour House. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council has pledged more mental health support work post-Covid - Credit: ARCHANT

A pledge has been made by Suffolk councillors to minimise the mental health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in future.

A motion unanimously approved on Thursday afternoon committed to continuing developing mental health support in schools, prioritising 0-19 services for families in need, a pledge to ensure an in-person visit by health workers to new born children within 12 weeks, signposting support services to frontline workers and continuing to develop natural assets in the county for the mental health benefits they bring.

Suffolk County Council Labour councillor Jack Abbott

Suffolk County Council's opposition Labour group spokesman for children's services, Jack Abbott - Credit: Archant

Other pledges include reducing the health inequalities faced by BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities and addressing the debt crisis which has contributed towards severe mental health problems.

Jack Abbott, spokesman for children's services with the opposition Labour group who put forward the motion, said: “While it looks like lockdown will slowly be coming to an end over the coming months, the mental health effects of this pandemic are likely to last much longer.

“There are a number of things that Suffolk County Council are doing which are having a positive impact, but we can and must do more to respond to a significant, and growing, mental health crisis.

“Mental health is a complex issue with no straightforward answers. We cannot fully know what the long-term impact of coronavirus will be, but the work we put into early intervention today will help mitigate a crisis tomorrow.”

Mary Evans

Suffolk County Council Conservative cabinet member for children's services, Mary Evans - Credit: Gregg Brownn

Conservative cabinet member for children's services, Mary Evans, said mental health issues highlighted by the pandemic included, fear, anxiety, and loneliness among others, and youngsters also needed to be considered.

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She added: "It's important that once the euphoria of being back at school subsides that raft of support, advice and guidance is there in place to catch the most vulnerable in our society."

The council is currently working on establishing 'healing woods' in the county to provide more natural space for people to reflect on loved ones lost in the pandemic, establishing the Home But Not Alone helpline during Covid, and supporting a pilot in schools by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to provide one-to-one mental health support.

Penny Otton from Suffolk County Council's Lib Dem, Green and Independent group, said cabinet should

Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group member at Suffolk County Council, Penny Otton - Credit: Archant

Penny Otton from the council's Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group said: "Mental health has been hidden in many ways - particularly by young children and young men.

"I believe the council has the obligation to continue a lot of the good work that has been put in place."