£2.5m fund announced to improve mental health

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Suffolk County Council has backed the creation of a £2.5m fund in a series of recommendations to improve the county's mental health. 

Stuart Keeble, director of Public Health in Suffolk, produced the Better Together: Public Mental Health in Suffolk report which focused on the actions that need to be taken to support and enable good mental health and wellbeing following the pandemic. 

This includes using £2.5m from the Government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF), in a dedicated fund towards supporting mental health and wellbeing recognition in Suffolk.

Mr Keeble said: “Every single person in Suffolk has had their life disrupted to some degree by the Covid-19 pandemic, and while the vaccines are currently doing a good job of protecting the majority of us from serious illness, the longer-term impacts on mental health and emotional wellbeing continue to evolve.

“Communities, workplaces, and public sector organisations must come together to create places and environments which support mental and emotional wellbeing across the whole of Suffolk.”

The report sets out six recommendations and includes the development of a cross system group focused on public mental health, which will report to the council's Health and Wellbeing Board. 

The council pledges "a robust approach to the measurement and evaluation of public mental health in Suffolk should be developed".

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The report said impacts may be long lasting and damaging as the physical effects of the virus, and focuses on actions that can be taken by communities, and public and private organisations. 

More than 1 in 5 adults experienced some kind of depression in 2021, which is twice what the figure was before the pandemic, while almost 50% of people said that their emotional and mental wellbeing had been affected.

Councillor Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council and chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Keeping mentally well is not only vital for individuals and families, but also for communities and the economy.

"The people of Suffolk stand the strongest chance of getting Better, Together.”

The health and wellbeing board will next meet on January 22 2022.