Council signs up to Mental Health Challenge

South Kesteven District Council is to sign up to the national Mental Health Challenge for Local Authorities as a public commitment to supporting residents' wellbeing and wellness.

A motion, proposed by the Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities, Cllr Annie Mason, and seconded by Cllr Ashley Baxter, stressed the need to put the mental wellbeing of everyone in the community at the forefront of the Council's agenda. It was approved unanimously by Full Council on Thursday (15 July).

A detailed report supporting the motion highlighted the additional pressures that the pandemic has placed on residents as thoughts turn to the recovery phase of the COVID-19 crisis.

SKDC has already created a mental health working party of cross-party members and officers that meets every eight weeks. Mental wellbeing will be among the priorities in Council decision-making and policy across all its areas of responsibility, including housing, community safety, engagement, planning and leisure.

Cllr Mason, who will take on the role of the Council's Mental Health Champion, said: "Mental health and wellbeing are critical to us all and we are only too aware of how badly the pandemic has affected people.

"Mental health issues for adults and children would remain the responsibility of our health partners, but as a District Council we have a crucial role to play in improving and supporting everyone in our community and working with our communities to promote positive wellbeing. It is brilliant that Councillors from all parties are getting involved in taking this forward."

SKDC's approach will be to work with partners within the community and other organisations including Lincolnshire County Council and the Health Service and feed into the county's Joint Health and Wellbeing Board for Lincolnshire, which already plays an active role in the district's health and wellbeing.

The Mental Health Challenge for Local Authorities began in 2013 to encourage and support councils in England to champion mental health in their communities. Led by the national charity Centre for Mental Health, it has now brought together 120 local councils with elected member champions for mental health.

The Deputy Chief Executive at the Centre for Mental Health, Andy Bell, said: "We are delighted that South Kesteven District Council has taken the Mental Health Challenge and will be championing mental health locally.

"District Councils play a pivotal part in the lives of communities, where good mental health is made. Putting the public's mental health at the heart of decisions made by the Council will improve health and wellbeing for all. It's great to see that the Council has already started work on this and we look forward to supporting further work to champion mental health