Ipswich Borough Council introduces measures to help signpost mental health services

Ipswich Borough Council is signposting people to mental health services. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Ipswich Borough Council is signposting people to mental health services. Picture: GETTY IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Borough councillors in Ipswich have been investigating how they can help people access mental health services in a bid to address the stigma attached with seeking help.

A wellbeing hub will be launched at Landmark House. Picture: SU ANDERSON

A wellbeing hub will be launched at Landmark House. Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

In 2015 Ipswich Borough Council’s strategic overview and scrutiny committee set up a mental health task group to assess what its staff could do to help signpost people who may be suffering, as well as what additional provision and education can take place.

Despite public health being a county council issue, councillors said it was important for everyone to do their bit, and have already made some changes and recommendations.

Liz Harsant, Ipswich borough councillor for the Holywells ward and committee member said: “People say why are you scrutinising this, but it’s everybody’s problem – that’s how we look at mental health awareness.

“It’s very easy to run away from these issues but we need to be aware of some of the bigger issues that are happening to our residents.”

Liz Harsant said metal health issues were a problem for everyone. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Liz Harsant said metal health issues were a problem for everyone. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Staff from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services in the county, and Suffolk County Council have met with councillors to help identify areas they can help.

Among some of the measures Ipswich Borough Council has taken are links on its website to self-referral agencies and training for its customer services team and tenancy staff to recognise and recommend services where appropriate.

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Ms Harsant said: “We wanted to see how we could help and make staff more aware.

“For example a housing officer can call around [to someone] – they can think can we help this person?

“Hopefully we have got information now so we can say to staff ‘this is what we have got to look at and this is where we can point people to’.”

An Emotional Wellbeing Hub is also being set up at Suffolk County Council’s Landmark House where services can jointly decide on the best course of action for a referral in a bid to help reduce the communication difficulties in multiple organisations being involved.

A helpline will also be available to offer advice and a consultation service as part of the hub’s work.

To find out more about mental health services available visit the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust website here.

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