‘Better Mental Health for All’ voluntary sector network goes live

 On Wednesday 28 September, 100 voluntary and community sector (VCS)  organisations, the NHS and local authorities came together to start a new mental health network.

This was the inaugural meeting of the network which has been set up to bring the voluntary sector and statutory partners together to collaborate on how to promote and deliver better mental health support and services in local communities.

Richard Kotulecki, the CEO from the Leicestershire mental health advocacy charity Lamp, was one of the partners that helped to organise the launch, said: “Across the voluntary sector we all know that mental health is a complex issue. Achieving better mental health for the people in our community requires us to consider clinical, social, cultural and environmental aspects. No single organisation, no matter how large, has the tools to achieve this alone. Together we have the experience, skills and passion to achieve better mental health. This network provides the voluntary sector with a voice within the NHS and an opportunity to work strategically with the NHS and local authority partners to match up expertise and resources for the benefit of our community.

Zoheb Shariff, CEO of Mosaic 1898, the Leicester disability charity said: “It was great to be part of the planning team that pulled this event together on behalf of the voluntary sector. There was a real buzz around the room as organisations mixed with each other, shared the impactful work they do, and took the opportunity to explore how we can further better mental health for all together. Today was all about getting going but we need to make sure that we can look back at this network in the months and years to come and demonstrate that we have made a positive impact on the mental health in our communities.”

John Edwards, Associate Director working on transforming mental health services within the integrated care system  commented: “This first event was all about networking and we certainly achieved that. We know that to achieve better mental health for all, we will need everyone’s effort and their ideas so that we don’t repeat what we’ve always done. This network, in addition to the Neighbourhood Teams that we are pulling together for mental health, will start to bring more decision-making to local communities.”

The event comprised a number of stalls from the NHS, the local authorities and local voluntary and charitable partners. One of the stallholders, Maryan Anshur from the Somalian Development Services, added: “I was delighted to be part of the first network event. We have been working with the NHS and others on the mental health agenda for a while now and we are seeing progress in the conversations that we are now able to have with our Somali community. There is much to do on changing the attitudes and reducing stigma, but at least we are having these conversations now.”

The event comprised a number of stalls from the NHS, the local authorities and local voluntary and charitable partners. One of the stallholders,  Peter  Smith, LPT’s lead for the Employment Support Service.

“We saw this as a fantastic opportunity to meet a lot of delegates from the VCS and it delivered on its promise. We had many people attend our stall for LPT’s Employment Support Service, and my colleagues and I benefitted from informative and positive conversations with VCS representatives where we not only learnt about their organisations and the amazing work they do across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland communities, but it also gave us the opportunity to discuss the work we do across the area and the potential for working together. We shared contact details with a range of VCS providers and already the conversations are happening post-event where we are exploring ways to benefit the local population’s access to employment to improve their recovery, but also the around the Better for Mental Health agenda’s aim to promote collaborative working in order to achieve this”.

For more information about the Network, please contact Louise O’Reilly Better Mental Health for all. louise.oreilly6@nhs.net