The West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Mental Health Commission, chaired by Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, has worked with a wide range of organisations to develop an action plan for change called Thrive West Midlands.
This action plan sets out how the region will seek to reduce the impact of mental ill health. Key organisations across the region have signed up to the plan which maps out the action needed and ensures the necessary leadership is in place. The action plan covers other areas of public services and the wider community, not just the NHS and social care.
The plan focuses on five themes:
- Supporting people in to work and whilst in work
- Providing safe and stable places to live
- Mental health and criminal justice
- Developing approaches to health and care
- Getting the community involved
Implementing the plan of action
1. Supporting people in to work and whilst in work
Action 1: Helping people with mental health needs back to work. A three year programme will be launched in 2017 to expand evidence-based supported employment provision in line with the principles of the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Model
Action 2: Encouraging employers to look after the mental health and wellbeing of their staff. A ‘West Midlands Workplace Wellbeing Commitment’ will be launched in Spring 2017, where public and private sector employees sign up to demonstrate their commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.
Action 3: Ensuring the wellbeing commitment has a wider reach. Encourage companies bidding for public sector contracts to sign up to the West Midlands Wellbeing Commitment, or demonstrate an equivalent commitment to the wellbeing of their staff.
Action 4: Evaluating a financial incentive to encourage employers. Work with the Government to trial an innovative ‘wellbeing premium’, a tax incentive that rewards employers demonstrating their commitment to mental health and wellbeing.
2. Providing safe and stable places to live
Action 5: Helping people to gain housing and work. Trial a scheme to offer a Housing First service with intensive mental health support in the West Midlands. This will support those with complex needs or who are homeless to move into good quality housing and, where possible, into work.
3. Mental health and criminal justice
The report outlines how the West Midlands is already leading the way in a number of ways around criminal justice. For example mental health nurses operate within all of the custody facilities across the West Midlands Police Force area under the Liaison and Diversion from custody programme. The region has also developed robust approaches to reduce the use of police cells for people detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
Action 6: Diverting people from the criminal justice system. Implement a programme to make more regular and widespread use of the Mental Health Treatment Requirement (MHTR) in the Magistrates and Crown Courts.
Action 7: Supporting people with mental health needs when they leave prison. Develop a programme that more effectively supports people with mental ill health as they prepare to leave prison and settle back in the community.
4. Developing approaches to health and care
Action 8: A commitment to the concept of zero suicide. Launch a ‘zero suicide’ ambition for the West Midlands – which together with the recently updated National Suicide Prevention Strategy, aims to prevent and reduce suicides across the region.
Action 9: Working towards embedding mental health in primary care. Establish a group of local and national experts to recommend a primary mental health care model for the region that ensures people’s mental health needs are more effectively supported. Promote and support a new era in mental health promotion, prevention and use of best practice treatment within primary care by the end of 2018.
Action 10: Ensuring the region treats psychosis early and effectively. Help to ensure the region meets national access and waiting time standards for early intervention in psychosis (EIP) services.
Action 11: Examining the principle of early intervention. Establish a group of local and national experts to examine how the principle of early intervention should be applied to other areas of mental health care, to support people much earlier, whatever their age.
Action 12: Ending out of area placements. End out of area mental health hospital placements – where mental health patients are placed in an in-patient bed at a hospital outside the area of the five mental health NHS Trusts in the region – for acute mental health care by the end of 2017.
Action 13: Reducing inappropriate inpatient admissions. Help to explore effective alternatives to inpatient care that meet the individual needs of people with mental ill health, including those in crisis and test which work best before implementing them. This will be achieved by looking at successful schemes such as crisis houses, and explore the case for establishing a network of host families in the region. Learn from others across the country such as Hertfordshire, Cambridge and South London, where digital systems to manage bed capacity are now in place.
Action 14: Reducing restraint in inpatient care. Apply for a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for a major project to substantially reduce the use of restraint in inpatient settings.
Action 15: Giving choice to people. Trial Integrated personal commissioning (IPC) in the region for those with mental ill health, giving power and control to people over the funds available for their care.
Action 16: Improving perinatal mental health. Establish a group to ensure access to specialist ‘perinatal’ mental health services across the region for women during pregnancy and after they give birth to their babies, in line with the national priority for perinatal mental health.
Action 17: Investigating why mental health act detentions are rising. This will include a focus on repeat detentions and if there are inequalities that need addressing.
5. Getting the community involved
Action 18: Raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the community. Launch a programme of community initiatives to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing, guided by people with experience of mental ill health and driven by the community.
Action 19: A large public health programme in mental health first aid. Train up to 500,000 people across the region in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) or other equivalent programmes over the next ten years. Explore the public and private partnerships to fund such a programme. Campaign for Government to amend First Aid Legislation for employers, to include mental health.
About the Commission
The WMCA became a substantive body in July 2016 and is made up of the seven local metropolitan councils. The mental health commission is made up of key figures including:
- Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP
- Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing Public Health England
- Professor Dame Carol Black, Advisor to government on employment and health
- teve Shrubb, Former NHS mental health Trust Chief Executive
- Dr Geraldine Strathdee, Former National Clinical Director for Mental Health at NHS England
- Karen Turner, Director of Mental Health – NHS England
The commission ensured there was involvement from an active citizen’s jury made up of people from across the West Midlands, who actively participated and helped shape the plan.
Ensuring the actions become a reality:
The following leadership and governance structures have been put in place to ensure the actions become a reality.
- Director level leadership
- A new wellbeing board
- An ongoing role for the citizens jury
- Appoint a panel of equality champion
- Mental health champions with the seven councils
Responding to West Midlands Combined Authority's launch today (31 January) of its Thrive West Midlands cooperative action plan on mental health, Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, said:
“This plan is an unprecedented example of a region unifying very different services to improve mental health. With so many partners supporting it, and a clear plan of action, this will be an essential test case for how other regions might also innovate and join-up services.
“The best available evidence supports the idea that changes in housing, schooling and other areas can radically benefit mental health – especially if they are well integrated with other services. Major pressure on mental health services has been an obstacle to change and it’s critical that the Government helps them receive long-promised funding.
“We look forward to working with this project and sharing its learnings with mental health services across the country.”