Mental Health in Gloucester

Mental Health in Gloucester

The Cavern

The new Cavern on 56 Westgate Street: replacing a pub with a safe space for all ages run by Treasure Seekers

Almost every day of the week has an allocated focus nowadays: there is even a World Toilet Day (Nov 19) to tackle global sanitation. There are moments when I object to being told what I should think about when some completely different issue needs to be dealt with. But there are other times when a focus can bring us together for a great cause, teach us things we didn’t know and get us to think about what more could be done. Today - World Mental Health Day – is one of those.

There are so many aspects of Mental Health it is hard to know where to start. Of course a major focus has to be what government is doing to recognise the many different issues, whether it will accept more recommendations made by an independent review of the Mental Health Act commissioned by Theresa May, and how much new money is being allocated.

We await the full government response to the Review before the end of the year, but meanwhile it is really good that an extra £2.3 billion additional funding was allocated in July, over the next 5 years, for mental health. This should see faster access to community and crisis mental health services for both adults and particularly children and young people health over the next 5 years. We may need to push for more: let’s see what the full response to the Review concludes.

Locally there is a big structural change of a merger of our mental health (2gether Trust and care services (Glos Care Services) into one Gloucestershire Health & Care NHS Foundation Trust makes good sense because so many people have both physical and mental issues at the same time: as we knew at home from my mother’s last decade with Alzheimer’s.

Often our mental health teams work unseen, like the mental health ‘Navigator’ who works with charity P3 (statutory provider of services like the Safe Space), helping re-house the homeless and rough sleepers (230 have been rehoused so far since the ‘social impact bond’ was funded),but given that about half of these vulnerable residents have addiction issues both physical and mental health issues need help. The same is true of the NHS Homeless team in the G Whitfield Centre, who have done a lot of unsung work.

Then there are other non government Gloucester based charities like CGL (working on substance misuse) and the Nelson Trust (several projects including helping vulnerable women, and keeping many out of prison, drug addiction rehab). I remember helping trustee Richard Lister in 2010 when he was trying to acquire the building (next to WI) where they’re based. From a team of 3 they now have 23 workers, not including The Hub Bistro they run in Southgate St where many with mental health issues come back into work. This has led to Swindon and Wilts commissioning a similar service, and now Somerset as well. Another, different, Gloucester export.

And I should, among many charities that I will get into trouble for not mentioning, mention the Barnwood Trust (a unique Foundation, focused on community based mental health solutions, including difficult ones like loneliness) and the Hollie Gazzard Trust. The abuse Hollie had from her boyfriend, leading to her murder, has reached the hearts of so many, especially the young. Hearing about relationships abuse while joining students at a session at Glos Col taught me a lot about social media pressures and relationship abuse for a younger generation.

These are real issues, which is why it’s so important that the NHS is following through on a national initiative and training a mental health advisor for 72 schools (47 primary schools, 19 secondary schools & 2 special schools) where they will deliver Mental Health Support Teams by January 2020. In fact they are currently in 5 secondary and 5 primary early adopter schools and the rest should be in place by January. I look forward to seeing them in my school visits soon.

Despite this good work the uncomfortable truth is there are too many suicides in Gloucestershire (including Gloucester): 43 in 2017-2018 and many attempts that the Police and others prevent (I’ve seen the police in action at one incident and the skills involved are vital). This is a very sad part of the 4,500 suicides every year in England or 13 people a day - the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50.

That’s why the Glos Suicide Prevention Partnership (GSPP) and Gloucestershire Health and Care are working together to raise awareness of suicide prevention and GSPP recently launched a free online suicide prevention training session from Zero Suicide Alliance (www.zerosuicidealliance.com/training/).

With Gloucestershire NHS winners of NHS Awards including mental health services. 

Today the Gloucester City Mission brought together many of these providers of help and hope to those with mental health issues at Kingsholm (thank you Gloucester Rugby Club) and the overwhelming feeling I had was that yes we do have a rising number of mental health issues: but we also have a record number of organisations and individuals helping those with issues.
What’s also changed is that awareness of mental health as a crucial part of our self understanding has risen: and gradually it is becoming much less of a stigma to acknowledge that any of us can have mental health issues. Given that one on four of us are likely to get dementia (unless scientific break throughs change things, as they may) that’s vital. It’s still a learning curve: only today I learnt that Vitamin B (eg meat and cheese) can help reduce mental health issues for some.

Most importantly I share the hopes and aspiration of Glos NHS Health & Care Trust Chief Executive Paul Roberts that the new combined service ‘that services and support will become better.’ With 5,200 staff, and savings from merging two Boards into one of £1m a year means more money into front line staff.

Lastly some key contacts:

  • Crisis Team (NHS Health & Care Trust) – 0800 1690398 (then Option 2 for Gloucester: 24 hours)
  • Suicide Crisis – 07975 974455
  • P3 (accommodation based support) – 08081 786003
  • Glos NHS Health & Care Trust for specialist mental health services - 01452 894000
  • Nelson Trust - 01453 885 633
  • George Whitefield Centre - 01452 521898
  • Narcotics Anonymous - 0300 999 1212
  • Listening Post – 01452 383820
  • Samaritans – 116123 (free)
  • Glos Self Harm Help Line – text 07537 410022 tel 08088 010606 (5-10pm)

Please help spread the word about these services and contacts so that every resident knows there IS help out there. We can all make a difference to ending any stigma out there about mental health, and supporting family, friends and colleagues with problems: while helping each other to build resilience too. For those who use social media the twitter account @MentalHealthUK has lots of good links.

If you think we can do more to prevent suicides, or what more I should highlight about other good work being done, please do let me know on richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk

Best regards