A NEW district-wide blueprint for improving people’s mental wellbeing is launched tomorrow.

Local health and social care organisations have worked in partnership with voluntary and community services, mental health service users and carers to develop the five-year strategy which they say will deliver the best possible services to those in need.

The plan, Mental Wellbeing in Bradford District and Craven: a strategy 2016-2021, covers all ages and focuses on what can be done to keep up and encourage good mental health, prevent problems and improve life for people living with and recovering from mental illnesses.

Up to 200 people are expected at a celebration event at Bradford’s Midland Hotel to mark the start of the new strategy which has been shaped by taking people’s experiences into account, said Dr Brendan Kennedy, GP and chairman of the local Clinical Commissioning Groups responsible for the transformation of mental health services, The strategy will be taking forward some projects that are already working well in the district including no-one having to go out of area to get acute inpatient care, and The Sanctuary and The Haven safe space initiatives developed with charities MIND and the Cellar Trust helping people in crisis avoid going to A&E.

With a total of £87.8m spending by CCGs and Bradford Council on mental health services in 2015/16, additional funding from NHS England for up to five years has been received for making improvements in children and young people’s mental health.

Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG, Bradford City CCG and Bradford Districts CCGs have made a commitment in the strategy to maintain current funding levels and make further investments over the coming years, backed by Bradford Council, to make sure the mental health needs of residents are properly cared for.

The expectation in the five-year plan is that any savings and efficiencies made through prevention and early intervention work, as well as any new models of care, will then be re-invested in mental health services. Part of the plan is also to keep looking for national opportunities for new funding.

Locally there are an estimated 17,000 children with some level of emotional difficulty or mental health problem living in Bradford district and Craven, expected to rise to about 23,600 by 2025, and there are about 69,000 people aged 16-74 in the area also experiencing common mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, with about 5,900 people going through severe mental illness.

Dr Kennedy said: “We have sense-checked our plans with service users and checked what gaps in services we need to consider, so we have a true blueprint to improve services and people’s mental wellbeing. The Government has committed to putting mental health on a par with physical health in the NHS, and we hope this strategy will be an important and ambitious step towards making that a reality on the ground.

“We understand how widespread mental health problems are – from someone experiencing a period of depression due to a personal hardship, to an individual living with long-term psychosis. This is why improving mental health outcomes for local people remains one of our top priorities.

“The strategy is a true partnership project which reflects the type of mental health and wellbeing services that local people would like to be developed. Our aim is to create a community that will help people stay well across their lifetime, achieving and sustaining good mental health and wellbeing for all.”

Ishtiaq Ahmed, community development manager for community development mental health organisation Sharing Voices, said his group was fully committed to the new mental health strategy and to helping deliver it.

“We also welcome the priority of working with children and young people that ensures services provide early help and support which are delivered in a flexible way, to meet the individual needs of young people and their families. This new strategy should act as a ‘breakthrough’ for overall mental health care. We are saying to the NHS, to government, to industry, to local leaders and to the public that mental health must be a priority for everyone,” he said.

Victoria Simmons, at health and social care watchdog Healthwatch, said she hoped the strategy would be the starting point for better outcomes and experiences for people. She added : “Healthwatch is hearing from people across the district that mental health is an area where improvements need to be made in a range of areas; from improving access to talking therapies for children and young people, or providing support to people with autistic spectrum conditions, through to crisis support and acute inpatient care.

“Healthwatch welcome the new strategy, and its ambition for improving the mental health and wellbeing of our population. Developing services in partnership with people who use them, and really understanding the needs of local communities, will lead to better outcomes and experiences for people - Healthwatch hope that this strategy will prove to be the starting point for this improvement.”

Kim Shutler-Jones, chief executive officer of the Cellar Trust mental health charity in Shipley, said the strategy identified some really positive and ambitious plans to build on and further develop some existing good work, but also to address some gaps in provision.

“Of course the challenge will be in how this strategy will be funded. With the significant funding cuts to health, social care and the voluntary and community sector, it is very difficult to see how some of these things will be achieved. Unfortunately the new funding announced by the Government last week will not go far enough. That said there is a strong commitment locally to work collaboratively and innovatively to do the very best we can for our communities and the Cellar Trust is very excited to be part of these developments.”

And a spokesman for MIND in Bradford said:"We are excited to see the launch of the Bradford District Mental Wellbeing strategy as we feel that it aligns with many of the objectives we've set ourselves as an organisation and will lead to better mental health in Bradford as a whole.

We believe that mental health is something that affects everybody and we're glad to be part of a project that recognises that. Just about everybody can move towards improved mental health with the right support and conditions that help them to help themselves.

A large part of what we plan on doing at Mind in Bradford over the next few years is about supporting people to take the action that they need to take to get their lives back on track. We're happy to see that Bradford Council is putting systems in place aligned with this vision. "