October 10 is Mental Health Day. Councillor Paulette Hamilton writes about the importance of looking after your Mental Health and what Birmingham City Council does to look after those with mental health needs.

Since 2012 and the death of a close family member due to suicide, I have had a special interest in people living with mental health problems. Research has shown that one in four of the population can be living with mental health problems at any one time. This can range from the worries we all experience as part of our everyday life to serious long-term conditions. No mental health need is the same from one person to another and we all have a range of factors which can affect our mental health during our lifetimes. Some of us can cope with these worries, stresses and life events without formal help. Some people might need support from friends, family or colleagues, whilst others may benefit from specialist mental health services input.
Most people who experience mental health needs soon recover from them, or learn to manage them, especially if they get help early on. Mental health difficulties can affect anyone, of any age or background and at any time of our life.
Birmingham City Council has a statutory responsibility to provide Mental Health services and prevention services across its Directorates including Adult Social Care, Neighbourhoods, Public Health and Education and Skills.

There are 4157 citizens known to adult services who have a classification on mental health. Of these 1860 receive some degree of commissioned support. 897 receive traditional support such as home care, residential and nursing and direct payments. 963 live in registered accommodation, 187 receiving personal care in a supported housing accommodation and 776 receiving floating support through housing benefit payment in their own home or a supported property.

Birmingham’s mental health offer consists of both statutory and non-statutory commissioned services and joint commissioned services.
Statutory services include Mental Health Social Work provided through Constituency Teams, the Birmingham Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) Service which responds to direct referrals for Mental Health Act Assessments, Out of Hours Adults and AMHP service, carers hub where carers can register for support in an emergency. We have contracted TIME to CHANGE – Rethink and Mind to offer additional support with prevention and managing mental illness at a non-statutory level.

Out of a total of 4,157 citizens over the age of 18 who have a classification of mental health, 755 citizens have services provided under the Mental Health Act (s117 aftercare). These range from day care to residential and nursing care and direct payments.
There are 897 people aged 18+ with an open long-term service within Birmingham City Council. 135 people receiving a direct payment, but over 450 people receive residential or nursing care.

Over many years the city has worked in partnership with the voluntary sector, NHS, CCG’s, Forward thinking Birmingham, and also 42 external providers and 9 internal centres to support a diverse range of adults with disabilities, older adults and adults with dementia. Whilst the primary support need is generally a learning and/or physical disability there is often an additional support need for mental health. There are 3 providers (including one internal centre) that specialise in supporting adults with dementia. 54 external providers and our internal home care provider provides support to adults with mental health difficulties. At present BCC commissions at 180 external Residential care providers, supported living providers and 59 nursing care providers.
963 residents live with a mental health classification in receipt of commissioned mental health services through Housing providers and supporting people schemes. This shows 187 citizens living in commissioned supported housing properties and 776 citizens in receipt of housing benefit related support through floating support schemes and the cost to the council.

Mental health issues can affect any of us at any time and staff and elected members are not exempt from experiencing mental health difficulties. Over the last seven months we have seen an escalation in staff and members needing support. Birmingham City Council as an employer has provided Mental Health First Aid across the Directorates by several trained volunteers who offer immediate reassurance to colleagues in mental distress. The council also have an Employee Assist Programme which offers telephone counselling, Birmingham Healthy Minds, Thrive at Work and Human Resources.

It is important that in these difficult times that you take good care of both your mental and physical health. Research has shown that Since social distancing was introduced:
– 35% of people have experienced more anxiety
– 22% have experienced more depression
– 21% have experienced more loneliness
– Nearly 50% of local people said that their household income has dropped due to Coronavirus

We have also seen a shocking increase in domestic abuse since lockdown measures were introduced.
With the uncertainty around future lockdown measures, many of us are finding it very tough to adapt to confusing circumstances which are constantly changing.
I wanted to write this blog to say mental health is everyone’s business. If you need support you can contact Birmingham Mind charity 0300-123-3393, or access the waiting room which you can access services from https://the-waitingroom.org

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