Faith and voluntary organisations came together yesterday (Monday 26 September) to break the stigma around mental health and to play their part in transforming services across Greater Manchester.
More than 150 people attended the Faith in Mental Health and Voluntary Sector conference to find out more about the region’s commitment to improving the mental health and well-being of local people, and to develop new ways of working together to make it happen.
People who have suffered mental health problems shared their experiences of services in Greater Manchester, including what went well and where improvements could be made.
Speakers included Jon Rouse, the new Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Greater Manchester Mental Health Strategic Partnership Board, and Reverend Canon Dr David Holgate from Manchester Cathedral.
Jon Rouse, Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, urged mental health professionals to work more closely with faith and voluntary sector organisations for the benefit of local people. Jon said: “The devolution of health and social care has given Greater Manchester a unique opportunity to transform services on a scale we haven’t seen before, putting local people at the heart of the system. This event provides the ideal platform to work with grassroots organisations to ensure the changes to mental health services, focussing on early help and prevention, actually make a difference to the people of Greater Manchester.”
Lord Peter Smith, GMCA lead for health and social care, said: “Everyone will know someone who has been affected or have themselves needed support due to mental health issues. Through devolution, we are committed to developing a radical new approach to mental health services which puts individuals and families first and joins up health and community services. The faith and voluntary sector have a key role to play in helping to develop services which contribute to improved well-being and health for vulnerable people.”
Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Greater Manchester Mental Health Strategic Partnership Board, said: “Faith groups, voluntary organisations and local communities can play a huge part in transforming mental health services and improving the mental health and wellbeing of our communities. Now is the opportunity for statutory services to work even closer with communities, supporting people and dispelling the myths that surround mental illness. I look forward to hearing how we can work together to create a healthier, happier Greater Manchester.”
Jonny Wineberg, Convenor of the Greater Manchester Interfaith Network and Chair of Manchester Jewish Care Forum, said: “Mental health is a key issue across our communities and the range of support from faith-based organisations is often not recognised. Befriending, counselling, mentoring and many other projects are run by churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and many charities, without which demand for NHS services would be far greater. This conference will hopefully strengthen the links between the NHS and the faith sector, providing new opportunities for collaboration as the devolution agenda begins to be implemented.”
All the ideas from the conference – including all the examples of mental health best practice that already exist in Greater Manchester – are now being collated and will form a list of recommendations for future discussion.
The aim is to produce an interfaith/voluntary sector mental health Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will result in closer partnership working and, ultimately, improved services for people who require mental health treatment and support.
Greater Manchester’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, launched earlier this year, sets out a new and ambitious approach to prevention and early intervention, bringing communities, employers, education authorities and health and social care organisations together to improve the mental health and wellbeing of individuals and families. This includes 24/7 mental health services for children and young people, a Greater Manchester-wide approach to suicide prevention, improving access to community-based services, and working with employers.
More information about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is available here.
You can also follow the conversation on Twitter – #mentalhealthGM