Health staff instrumental in councils' efforts to improve mental health, LGA says

The Local Government Association (LGA) has released a report stressing the importance of councils working together with health professionals to promote good mental health in children.

The report issued ’10 top tips’ for local authorities which have responsibility for public health services for children and outlined the key role midwives, health visitors and school nurses have in promoting emotional health and wellbeing.

The study entitled, Best Start in Life, urged councils to work closely with health partners to create integrated services ‘to meet the needs of families in the most appropriate way’. It highlighted that support should be available to vulnerable mothers and cited a scheme being tested by Knowsley Council, ‘Building Bonds’, where mother struggling with mental health problems were offered better support.

Councillor Izzi Secombe, LGA portfolio holder for community wellbeing, said: “What is deeply concerning is there are substantial numbers of children and young people who are increasingly struggling with mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and self-harm, in addition to a minority who face potentially life-threatening conditions such as eating disorders and psychosis.

“But to understand the scale of the problem, you have to go back to before a child’s birth, with one in five mothers experiencing mental illness during pregnancy or in the first year, which can have a potentially devastating impact on a child if left untreated.”

Secombe added: “This emphasises the need to intervene early, so we can help children and young people build and maintain good mental health which has lasting positive consequences throughout their lives, both inside and outside school.”