ADPH Consultation Response: Mental health and wellbeing plan: discussion paper

July 8, 2022 in ADPH Updates, Mental Health by Heather Partridge

The ADPH welcomes the opportunity to provide written evidence to the DHSC consultation on the mental health and wellbeing plan. DsPH and public health teams within local authorities are well placed to support the implementation of the plan. They are important stakeholders in leading local preventative work, promoting good mental health in schools and conducting school health surveys, commissioning and advising services and leading suicide and self-harm prevention.  

The submission sets out ADPH’s views informed by our members and ADPH Policy Position Statement: Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Key messages 

  • A whole system approach is needed which identifies opportunities for minimising risk factors and enhancing protective factors through evidence-based interventions at key life stages from preconception, during pregnancy, through childhood and adolescence, working and family building years, retirement and into older age. Such an approach requires cross-departmental action and partnership working across schools, the NHS, the police, housing associations, voluntary and community sector organisations and other key stakeholders, to address the wider determinants of good mental health. 
  • The Government should tackle the social determinants of health such as housing, employment, financial instability and education. Building wellbeing into policy decision making and funding allocation should be a cross-government priority, supported by a new ‘health index’ and better utilisation of existing ONS wellbeing statistics.  
  • Local areas should also be supported to adopt a place-based approach which works across the protective factors for mental health. These include high quality housing, financial stability (including employers paying living wages, getting all entitled benefits, debt reduction advice, etc), good employment, training and education, green spaces & physical activity and increased social capital. 
  • ADPH would like to see a more prevention-focused, public health approach to mental health and wellbeing in the population. Current strategies and approaches are too focused on managing developing and existing mental health problems, rather than promoting wellbeing and building personal resilience.    
  • There should be an explicit focus on addressing the health inequalities associated with poor mental health and wellbeing – this includes ensuring alignment with the Government’s forthcoming Health Disparities White Paper. 
  • The role of poverty in driving mental health problems must also be clearly addressed within the plan. Poverty and income inequality are toxic to mental health as acknowledged by NHS England’s new CORE20PLUS5 initiative which links deprivation (the most deprived 20%) to severe mental illness, one of the five conditions it seeks to address. ADPH would welcome the restoration of binding national targets to reduce child poverty. 
  • Action is needed at all levels of society to tackle the levels of stigma still attached to mental health problems, and to ensure parity of esteem between physical and mental health. Any new strategy needs to contain strategies for tackling this stigma and achieving parity of esteem. This includes promoting greater mental health literacy.