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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Launch of mental health champions

Monday, 2 December 2013

I am having a really exciting day looking out from Rethink's Headquarters over the Thames towards Big Ben.

Mental Health Champion eventToday (2 December), we have had the first meeting of the 'mental health champions', together with representatives from the main mental health charities.  I believe I have been privileged to attend this very important event, together with fellow psychiatrists, Drs  Adrian James, Michele Hampson and Jonathan Campion, together with the College's Public Affairs Manager, Will Pickering. It has been very exciting for us all to be part of a ground breaking, and I suspect even historic, moment. 

We will only change attitudes towards people with mental health problems by taking a local community approach, street-by-street, ward-by-ward. In order to achieve this, the real catalysts for change are local councillors.

At the Labour Party Conference a couple of years ago, Kevan Jones MP  gave us the light bulb moment on how to develop local mental health champions. Those Councillors present at today's event, I know will be a real force for health and for checking  services on their patch.  Kevin asked them to think about mental health and employment as they link with major businesses, and critically in starting early, and thinking of mental health of children.

Today was living proof of how resilience in mental health can be built up from the ground. Local  Councillors are the guardians of local communities and having them on our side is a major move forward. So let's hope this new and growing group will continue to network, to grow and to meet on an annual basis to share best ideas and innovation.

Cllr Michael Bevan told his own very moving, but empowering, story of his own mental health  problems and how he used this experience to help others overcome their mental health problems. He achieved this by influencing and educating local councils, by bringing agencies together across Dorset to a conference, and have them make real-time pledges to better understand mental health - and hence the start of the mental health champion movement. So thanks to the first mental health champion Michael Bevan.

Cllr Edward Davies, a local Councillor in Lambeth who also sits on the Ministerial Advisory Group, told us he has used his rightful powers as a local councillor to ensure mental health services act as they should, and listen and learn from those who represent their local community. In his usual indomitable fashion - which he has used to real effect on the Ministerial Group - he stressed the challenges in providing timely accessible services for those from BME communities.

For me, today has been an enormous highlight of my time in role of President of the College as I see this as the start of a whole movement that can help deliver psychosocial resilience across communities and generations.

Other bits of news

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society recently launched a new report, Now or Never: Shaping pharmacy for the future from an independent Commission into Future Models of Care delivered through pharmacy.

On Friday 29 November, the Care Quality Commission unveiled changes in the way it will inspect specialist mental health care services, putting a greater emphasis on inspecting the care that people with mental health problems receive in the community.


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