I was delighted last week to introduce our detailed action plan as to how in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) we will make 2017 the Year of Mental Health. I brought the plan to our local Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) for approval and to seek broad stakeholder engagement and buy in for this crucial strategy and work stream. Positively, the proposals were unanimously endorsed and approved including our proposed strategy for localising the Berkshire wide suicide prevention plan.

I understand we are the first HWB in Berkshire to detail and approve such plans, which directly chime with the announcements that our local MP and Prime Minister Theresa May published a few weeks ago.  There is no doubting that across RBWM we are embedding a serious and concerted commitment to raising the profile of mental health and to reduce stigma.  I am proud of our involvement in the Brighter Berkshire initiative, which is providing a critical catalyst for such endeavours and work.    

So why have we developed such an action plan?   Why is this a key priority?   The Royal Borough cannot promote public health and wellbeing without including mental health, as mental health is acknowledged to be as important as physical health. Across the council, we have adopted an approach that clearly stipulates that there is no ‘public health without mental health’. In 2014, 21,498 people had some form of mental health disorder in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. This is projected to rise to 22,630 by 2030 (an increase of 1,132 people) . It is therefore timely to strengthen our efforts in the area of mental health, acknowledging the importance of promoting both physical and mental health.

The action plan we are implementing reflects central government recommendations and local government commitment. Our vision for good population mental health is built around three pillars: 1) mental health in all policies approach, 2) building resilience in children and young people, and 3) strengthening communities through an asset based approach.

The following recommendations were unanimously approved by the Board:  

1) Recognise the Brighter Berkshire Campaign and collaborative role played by the Royal Borough in supporting this partnership. 

2) Endorse the Royal Borough’s Year of Mental Health plan. 

3) Endorse parity of esteem between mental health & physical health and the need to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

We will also be setting up a dedicated Task and Finish Group to look at how we can best localise and optimise the Berkshire wide suicide prevention strategy in RBWM.  We will be taking a multi-stakeholder and consultative approach, and I encourage interested parties to make contact with me to share their views, thoughts and insights.  

I would like to thank Hilary Hall (RBWM, Head of Commissioning) and Teresa Salami-Oru (RBWM, Public Health Consultant) for their outstanding work putting the plan together, and Darrell Gale (Public Health Lead at Wokingham Council) for his leadership and expertise on the Berkshire wide suicide prevention strategy.  I would also like to thank Cllr David Coppinger (RBWM Lead Member for Adult Services and Health, and Chairman of HWB), Cllr MJ Saunders (RBWM Mental Health Champion) and Dr Adrian Hayter (Chairman of WAM CCG) for their unequivocal support and enthusiasm.    

This is a good start and one we need to build on.  I look forward to making further progress across 2017 and delivering a Brighter Berkshire for all our residents.  

Cllr Stuart Carroll

Principal Member Public Health & Communications 

Boyn Hill Ward 

For more information, please visit the following link where the above policy papers can be downloaded and accessed: http://rbwm.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=171&MeetingId=6414