The 18-point manifesto asks for people standing in the local elections to implement policies to improve quality of life
“Better mental health is every council’s business. Every councillor has the power to make changes that will benefit their communities both immediately and in the long term. We hope all candidates will do what they can to champion mental health and make a difference for their residents.” Ed Davie, policy and public affairs lead, Centre for Mental Health
The Centre for Mental Health, a charity promoting better mental health by tackling poverty and injustice, has published an 18-point action plan for local authorities in the run-up to the May elections.
The manifesto, Mentally healthier council areas, lists ways in which council candidates can commit to improving mental health while reducing inequalities in their local area.The actions fall into four categories: reduce poverty; improve the environment; support the best start in life; and ensure access to quality services. Although the Victorian sewers are long gone, the manifesto says, “air pollution, childhood trauma and poverty are still major problems which contribute to poorer mental and physical health.”
It notes that mental health is “largely determined by our childhood and current circumstances. The balance of positive (protective) factors and negative (risk) factors in our lives plays a big part in determining our mental health outcomes.” Councils, it adds, “have opportunities to help protect our mental health as well as ensuring the best possible support for people with mental health difficulties.”
Included in the 18 actions are:
Ed Davie, the Centre for Mental Health’s policy and public affairs lead, said that committing to the 18 points “could transform local communities’ mental health.” He added: “Better mental health is every council’s business. Every councillor has the power to make changes that will benefit their communities both immediately and in the long term. We hope all candidates will do what they can to champion mental health and make a difference for their residents.”
The charity’s interim chief executive, Andy Bell, said: “Local councils play a crucial part in supporting good mental health in communities. Many have championed mental health steadfastly during the last ten years, often in the face of funding cuts as well as the threats from a global pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.
“Every local council in England can make changes that will boost mental health for all. We want all candidates and political parties standing in this year’s local elections to back our calls to action and make a commitment to improve mental health through evidence-based actions.”
Centre for Mental Health has also launched a new Mentally Healthier Councils Network for elected members and council staff, offering training and resources to help local authorities to promote better mental health in their communities.
The local elections are only five weeks away, so this is a good opportunity to raise the issue of mental health with candidates. We agree with the Centre for Mental Health that mental illness does not exist in isolation, and is very often rooted in poverty, disadvantage and an unhealthy environment. Better quality housing, a living wage and plentiful green spaces all contribute to the conditions that improve people’s mental health. We hope that candidates for local councils will read the Centre’s recommendations carefully and incorporate them into their manifestos.