Agenda item

Review of the Mental Health Strategic Partnership and the governance of Mental Health and Wellbeing across County Durham

Report of the Chair of the County Durham Mental Health Strategic Partnership.


The Board received a report of the Chair of the County Durham Mental Health Strategic Partnership, Mike Brierley, on the review of the Mental Health Strategic Partnership (MHSP) and the governance of Mental Health and Wellbeing across County Durham (for copy see file of minutes).


The Chair of the MHSP updated the Board on the work in delivering on 19 key priorities within the operational plans under the following five workstreams: Children and Young People; Suicide Prevention; Crisis Care Concordat; Dementia; and Resilient Communities Group.  The Board noted that a Health Impact Assessment on health inequalities was undertaken during lockdown, which identified that mental health and emotional wellbeing remains a key priority for the system.  The Chair of the MHSP noted that newly emerging mental health structures were set out in the report and included:


    The County Durham Prevention Board, which included a number of campaigns and an Employee Assistance Programme.

    The Community MH Framework, and the development of a multi-agency steering group in Durham to move work forward and provide system oversight.

    Mental Health Alliance will go live on 22 April 2022, with the aim of co-producing and coordinating a range of services for those with MH needs.

    County Durham Covid Resilience team

    Work with the community and voluntary sector


The Chair of the MHSP explained that the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Mental Health programme was one of nine delivery programmes developed by the NENC ICS to ensure mental health was fully integrated and added there were five workstreams under the NENC ICS to promote mental health transformation:

1.       Starting Well – Children and Young People

2.       Community Transformation

3.       Parity of Esteem - for mental health and physical health

4.       Health Inequalities

5.       Suicide Prevention


The Chair of the MHSP noted four options for the MHSP had been considered, as outlined in paragraph 9 of the report, with Option C being the preferred choice, to refresh the MHSP’s role and remit in response to system-wide changes, including membership and terms of reference.


Councillor T Henderson noted that COVID-19 had a big impact and noted   children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) was often seen as the only place young people can access for mental health needs, however there were lots of other services available in communities.  He asked how that information was being shared with young people, schools, parents and residents.  The Chair of the MHSP noted CAHMS had been seen historically as the “go-to” as regards children and young people’s mental health issues.  He noted 95 percent of children were in school and there was positive work in supporting the child, families and carers and noted there needed to be a holistic approach, not just specialist services.  He noted an area that would help would be to reduce the waiting times to see specialist services and noted parental support from the Rollercoaster Support Group.  The Corporate Director of Children and Young People agreed with the Chair of the MHSP that the work in relation to children and young people’s mental health was critical and supported Option C as outlined in the report.  He noted the challenges in terms of social model and clinical approach, and a broader approach in terms of mental health and wellbeing.  He added he felt the MHSP and Children’s Board were key and reiterated the significant challenges.


Councillor R Bell noted that County Durham had a great cultural offer, as could be seen from the City of Culture Bid which had progressed to the next stage.  He asked how we could better link the positive impact that cultural experiences can bring for the benefit of people’s mental health and wellbeing.  The Chair of the MHSP noted it was essential that we try and noted some of the best work he saw came from such experiences, which helped to drive people forward and had positive mental health impacts. 


The Director of Public Health noted her support for Option C and the amount of work undertaken by the MHSP.  She noted the opportunities linked to the City of Culture bid, especially post-COVID-19, working with culture and health and wellbeing, work with suicide prevention, in a holistic approach.  She noted the programmes and whether they were reaching the right young people and families, therefore work with the Children’s Partnership was felt to be a step in the right direction.



That the Board:


(i)        Note the contents of the report.

(ii)       Considered the progress of the current 5 MHSP workstreams.

(iii)     Note the development of the new initiatives developed in direct response to Covid.

(iv)     Reflected on the interface with Darlington when considering crisis care and other services which cover a wider geography.

(v)      Endorse the recommendation for Option C to refresh the role and remit of MHSP to progress a whole-system approach to mental health and wellbeing across County Durham.


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