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North Yorkshire gives priority to mental health

North Yorkshire County Council say they are working hard to promote mental health and wellbeing across the county with new projects and initiatives.

As Mental Health Awareness Week gets underway, the county council has renewed its commitment to prioritising support for people with mental health issues.

New initiatives include funding for a “Men in Sheds” project which encourages men to get together to share practical activities; pop-up community cafes in rural areas and a pioneering “Hearing Voices” group to help people with schizophrenia and other conditions to manage their condition.

It is estimated that 150,000 people in North Yorkshire – one in four – will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives and the county council is investing many millions of pounds in supporting people with mental health needs, maintaining levels of spending over the next two years despite its current savings programme.

The authority say they believe that investment in supporting people with mental health issues will help them to lead more fulfilling and independent lives, so helping to reduce the cost of services in the longer term.

County Councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Integration said: Many of us will have experienced mental health difficulties at some point in our lives, or have family and friends with mental health issues.

North Yorkshire is England’s largest county with sparse and aging populations and we are working with our partners and communities in many innovative ways to support those who are vulnerable, isolated and lonely to manage their mental health so they can continue to lead fulfilling lives as part of families and communities.

The county council is currently drawing up its own long-term mental health strategy and has also joined forces with the National Health Service and North Yorkshire Police to listen to the views of people with mental health issues across North Yorkshire and to use these views to inform a joint strategy for mental health and well-being.

In addition the county council has embarked on a number of initiatives:

  • Continue to support and deliver integrated mental health services with teams across the county council and in the National Health Service
  • Continue to be well-placed to recruit and retain skilled social care mental health practitioners
  • Investing Public Health Grant in new work around suicide prevention
  • Setting up new programmes to support people who are coping with bereavement
  • Signed up to the national Crisis Concordat to follow good practice in helping people in crisis locally

Public health and adult social care have come together to create a new team of prevention officers to work predominantly with vulnerable and older people and their carers. The role of the officers will be to support people to access what’s going on in their communities and to find solutions to reach their own health and wellbeing goals. The prevention officers will work with individuals for a time-limited period and link closely with the county council’s Strong Communities team, as well as GP practices, community health services, voluntary and community organisations and district council services.

Last year the county council invested £1 million in an Innovations Fund over three years to tackle loneliness across the county and to help people maintain physical and mental health and independence. It has also established a Stronger Communities programme of support for local communities wishing to run local services. These two programmes together cover an impressive range of initiatives designed to tackle loneliness and isolation and boost emotional well-being as an important part of community resilience.

Projects include:

“Men in Sheds” is a group that offers support and social activities for men over 60. The group, which is run by Next Steps Ryedale with funding by the county council, is to be held at the Next Steps Mental Health Resource Centre in Malton every Thursday from 10am – 12.15pm, starting May 15th. The group gives space for members to come together and take part in a range of practical projects together that they might usually complete in their garden shed.

Farmers’ breakfasts are being funded through the county council’s Stronger Communities programme and run by Ryedale Carers Support (RCS). A number of men who have retired from work, either in farming or other rural pursuits, have been invited to the breakfasts to help deal with issues of isolation and well-being. The first breakfast will be in June.

Members of the county council’s Harrogate recovery team – which helps people referred by community mental health services to build their lives back up – have worked with service users in a pioneering initiative to set up a hearing voices group in the area. This is specifically designed to help people with schizophrenia and other conditions who hear voices, to manage their situation. Harrogate MIND and the Tees, Eske and Wear Valley NHS are also supporting the initiative which starts on May 21st.

The county council continues to develop its increasingly popular Nature and Natterers group which is run in partnership with Open Country. This group, which has proved attractive in particular to young men– a hard-to-reach group – by focusing on physical outdoor work such as dry stone walling, cleaning up canals with the Canal Trust, and replacing steps at Aysgarth Falls in the Yorkshire Dales. This group has been especially successful in helping people move on to paid work or volunteer work.

In Craven and Selby the county council is funding Horton Community Café – a project which is now running a series of community cafés across the Craven and Selby districts. In Selby district, the cafes are now running regularly in Sherburn, Tadcaster and Selby, as well as pop-up events in more rural areas of the area. In Craven District, the cafes are running regularly in Skipton, Ingleton, Embsay and Gargrave, as well as pop-up events in rural areas. The cafes are aimed at anyone feeling low, experiencing isolation and loneliness, including older people and people with physical and learning disabilities. They provide day-time activities based around the needs identified in the community, such as independent living skills, educational opportunities, debt management and healthy cooking.

Pioneer Projects is a community arts and wellbeing charity based in Bentham which the county council is currently supporting to work with people living with dementia and also the carers of people living with dementia. Pioneer Projects is providing a range of creative arts activities to help improve wellbeing , increase self-confidence and develop new skills.

The county council is currently undertaking a procurement process to replace its CrisisCall telephone helpline service for people with mental health problems.

The authority had consulted on developing a single helpline service to improve access for all North Yorkshire residents and provide value for money for the county council and the clinical commissioning groups. A transitional service for the county is in place until procurement is completed. This is being provided by City of York Council’s well-established service so that users will experience consistent quality.

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