Community-led action plan to prevent a mental health crisis launched | Press releases

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Community-led action plan to prevent a mental health crisis launched

South London Listens, a unique partnership between the NHS, local authorities, and community organisations today launched their action plan to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of our communities.

Launched in 2020 by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust with the two other mental health Trusts in south London, and in partnership with local authorities, South London Listens heard from more than 6,000 people about how the pandemic had impacted their mental health and what they needed to support their recovery.

In June, community leaders called on the mental health Trusts, as well as local authorities and other public bodies to support their recovery from the pandemic by pledging their support for a series of asks.

The South London Listens Action Plan, published today, sets out how the South London Listens programme partners will deliver on their pledges over the next two years.

The plan covers 22 pledges across four priority areas:

  1. Loneliness, social isolation and digital exclusion
  2. Work and wages
  3. Children, young people and parental mental health
  4. Access to services

Projects will include training 400 people across south London to become Mental Health Champions to help those suffering from mental ill-health. The programme will also establish 100 mental health and wellbeing hubs for people to turn to when they feel their mental health is low or simply to feel more connected with their local community.

Mental health Trusts and local authorities have pledged to work towards becoming Living Wage accredited and encouraging others to do so. The programme will also be launching two projects to support the mental health of parents and investing in embedding mental health practitioners in communities.

The South London Listens programme has successfully secured £1m in funding to deliver this programme of work that will be delivered in partnership with the community.

An Accountability Summit will be held in summer 2022 to demonstrate progress against the action plan.

Sir Norman Lamb, Co-Chair of the South London Listens Taskforce and Chair of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said:

“The community summit in June powerfully set an agenda for action to prevent mental ill-health and promote recovery. It is now our job to make sure the pledges we made become a reality.

“We have a once in a generation opportunity to make a lasting change. and it is inspiring to be working in such close partnership between the NHS, local authorities, and members of our communities. Together we are going to make lasting improvements to people’s lives.”

Ann Beasley CBE, Co-Chair of the South London Listens Taskforce and Chair of South West London and St Georges NHS Trust said:

“Our communities have been very clear about the toll the pandemic has taken and continues to take on their mental health. This action plan demonstrates our commitment to delivering on our pledges and supporting our communities recovery.

“We know there is a long road ahead of us, but by working in partnership and listening to we can take practical action that will have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Rev’d Cathy Wiles, Assistant Priest at All Saints West Dulwich, on behalf of South London Citizens said:

“As community leaders from across South London, who invested our hopes, time and energy in listening to thousands of others and developing asks of decision makers, we are pleased to see this Action Plan published. It signals your commitment to following through on the pledges you made to us at the Community-led Summit on 16 June 2021.”

Following the community summit in June local authorities made a series of commitments:

Councillor Lucy Caldicott, Lambeth Council’s member for health and social care, said:

“A key focus for Lambeth now and into the future is tackling systemic health inequalities and this will continue, more so than ever, as we emerge from or live with the pandemic. We are proud to sign up to the full range of pledges and play our role, alongside our partners, in supporting our communities' mental health and wellbeing.”

Councillor Evelyn Akoto, Southwark Council’s member for health and wellbeing, said:

“We are fully committed to what our community is asking us to do. We have started work on Safer Surgeries and I am now determined to have all our surgeries sign up. We have a transient population so it’s important we combat the postcode lottery by working together to provide excellent mental health services wherever our residents may find themselves.’

Councillor Chris Best, Lewisham Council’s member for health and adult social care, said:

“The voice of our communities couldn’t have been clearer and access to services will be one of our top priorities. I’m also very proud that Lewisham will be supporting the Mental Health Champions programme and developing and digital and social isolation strategy to help Lewisham residents recover from the pandemic.”

Councillor Janet Campbell Croydon Council’s member for families, health and social care, said:

“The passion of our communities to overcome the terrible impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been inspiring. Now is the time for us to match their passion and pledge our support to all their asks. I’m looking forward to continuing to work alongside them to improve mental health for all.”

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