NHS’s new mental health strategy to focus on the young

The NHS in South West London has launched a Mental Health Strategy setting out the ways it aims, over the next five years, to improve and support the mental health of everyone who lives, works or studies in Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth.

The strategy is to be delivered by the NHS South West London Integrated Care Board (ICB) together with the two local mental health NHS trusts, South West London and St George’s and South London and Maudsley, is the first ICB-wide strategy of its kind in London.

Demand for mental health services has increased in recent years. Nationally, there has been a rise in the percentage of children identified as having a probable mental health disorder from 11.6per cent in 2017 to 17.4per cent in 2021 – with Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) the fastest-growing speciality.

A higher proportion of under-18s in south-west London have accessed mental health services compared to anywhere else in the capital.

The strategy will focus on going further and faster for children and young people, while also increasing equity of access, experience and outcomes for all South West Londoners and tackling issues earlier to prevent mental ill-health.

In the first year of the strategy, the focus will be on children and young people and embedding transformation of community services for adults with serious mental illness.

“We know there is a real need to support people at an early stage before mental health problems escalate,” said Sarah Blow, NHS South West London ICB’s CEO.

“Equally, we know that the pandemic and cost of living crisis are among the many things having an impact on wellbeing. This strategy will help us to focus on supporting those at risk of developing a mental health condition, both now and in the coming months and years.

“Our strategy will help us to ensure we can provide outstanding care and support to everyone in our diverse communities who needs it.”

Vanessa Ford, mental health ICB representative and chief executive of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, said: “Following extensive engagement with our communities, we have developed a strategy that is focused on prevention and early support and improving care for children and young people specifically.

“This is an extremely important piece of work and together with our partners, we are committed to tackling health inequalities and delivering inclusive, effective services that are accessible and meet the needs of our diverse communities.”

Service users, carers, local stakeholders and partners will be invited to engage and participate in the delivery of the Mental Health Strategy later this year.

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1 Response to NHS’s new mental health strategy to focus on the young

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    Andrew Fisher wrote an article on Pollution and the ULEZ yesterday (Driven to distraction, pro-car Tories are bad for your health). He made some very good points. However missed the glaring points that Pollution is a major cause of organ damage including to the brain.

    a large study found that exposure to air pollution “is significantly associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders,” including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorder.
    Studies have also found associations between air pollution and mental health problems. What is not clear at the moment is exactly how it might influence mental health.

    The authors of the large U.S. and Danish study suggest their research points to neuroinflammatory mechanisms linking air pollution and psychiatric consequences.

    (There are correlations between rising poor mental heath n London and increases of Polluition and rises in the number of adolescants affected)

    Another recent study looked at potential impacts on children and adolescents who may be particularly vulnerable as they experience critical periods of brain development. The review of research found evidence that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of depression symptoms and suicidal behaviors. They also found, through neuroimaging studies, evidence for associated structural and functional changes in the brain.

    The findings of the large population study mentioned above suggest that poor air quality during the early years of an individual’s life increases the risk of psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorder, and major depression)
    Anyone wishing to read these papers the references are below.

    Fundamentally we see the effects of pollution all around us and like Diabetes it is a silent (ish) killer.
    It is not just car pollution either. House pollution from black mould, dust pollution from building works etc all contribute quite distinctly to poor mental health.

    The solutions rest with ourselves. But they also rest with the Councils tasked with duties. Shirking impact assessments as they are awkward is unhelpful at best and lethal to those affected. Failing to monitor and enforce is unhelpful at best.

    Councils acting in good faith and with diligence goes a long way in supporting prevention of those illnesses in te first place.
    That is why co-orniated action from public services and authorities with the NHS has to be a fundamental bedrock of public administration going forward.

    Laudable and a way forward for young people with mentl health issues this strategy may be and should be welcomed.
    But this has to be effectively resourced to make a difference. In addition no more should adolescants with issues be effectively discarded at 18 years old.

    Brain development continues into the 20s and up to 26. So should this focus.

    Khan A, Plana-Ripoll O, Antonsen S, Brandt J, Geels C, Landecker H, et al. (2019) Environmental pollution is associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders in the US and Denmark. PLoS Biol 17(8): e3000353. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000353
    Zundel, C. G., Ryan, P., Brokamp, C., Heeter, A., Huang, Y., Strawn, J. R., & Marusak, H. A. (2022). Air pollution, depressive and anxiety disorders, and brain effects: A systematic review. Neurotoxicology, 93, 272–300. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2022.10.011
    Zundel, C.G. 2022. This is the impact of air pollution on your brain and mental health. World Economic Forum, Nov. 29, 2022

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