Transforming mental health in Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham

To mark the launch of the Fabian Health Network’s mental health awareness project, Andy Burnham outlines his plans to improve  service provision in Greater Manchester

As mayor of Greater Manchester I pledged to prioritise mental health and ensure it is treated as seriously as physical health, and I remain committed to that.

The consequences of poor mental health are a growing problem for Greater Manchester. There are nearly 4,000 people in Greater Manchester in contact with mental health services for every 100,000 of the population compared to 2,176 nationally. In addition to the direct costs to the NHS, our economy incurs further costs around unemployment, alcohol and substance misuse and suicide which we know are connected to poor mental health.

Despite these figures, mental health provision in Greater Manchester has not been what it should but there is some fantastic work being done to improve these services and we have a unique opportunity to make some significant changes in our city-region.

The nature of our devolution deal gives us the opportunity to join up services and address some of the wider determinants of health – including housing, skills and leisure.

We need to re-think our approach to mental health. In an ageing society when people live longer, more isolated lives, we can no longer look at people’s physical health, social care and mental health as three separate systems but as part of one vision for a modern health care system.

And working through Greater Manchester Health and Care Partnership, the body overseeing our £6bn health and care budget, we have already started to make progress.

In July we announced a £134m investment to transform mental health in Greater Manchester – the biggest and most ambitious of its kind in the country. A total of 60 per cent of this cash (around £80m) was focused on supporting the mental health needs of children, young people and new mums as part of a wider commitment to increase the proportion of the budget focused towards young people.

On October 10, as we marked World Mental Health day, we set out how each of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs can apply for their share of an £11m fund that can help towards making their services sustainable and putting more of a focus on prevention and early intervention.

This is all backed up by strong financial and operational performance in Greater Manchester, with a surplus of over £230m which was significant in delivering a balanced position for the NHS as a whole in England and a better than average performance against mental health waiting time standards.

Some of this ongoing work to make improvements to mental health services in Greater Manchester was recently tested following the tragic events at Manchester Arena on May 22 when a terrorist attack occurred after an Ariana Grande concert. Twenty two people died, hundreds were injured, and many people’s lives were changed forever, both physically and mentally.

Agencies across Greater Manchester continue to ensure the best coordinated care for the injured, including rehabilitation and our dedicated Mental Health Hub, which will be working with those affected by the attack for at least the next couple of years to ensure their needs have been properly identified, diagnosed and treated. And Greater Manchester is offering these services regardless of where people live in the UK.

In addition to having good general support available, we should not overlook the need for targeted services. Tailored mental health support that meets the specific needs of particular communities of identity have demonstrated remarkable success where they are in operation.

In Greater Manchester, and in partnership with the NHS locally, LGBT Foundation provides a range of services including counselling, talking therapies, peer support and groups, which have led to excellent health outcomes.

Every single lesbian, gay, bi and trans person who used the services reported an improvement in their mental health and gave the service a 100 per cent satisfaction rate. Recovery rates are well ahead of both NHS targets and the national average and independent evaluation demonstrated a saving to the public purse. So targeted services aren’t just a nice thing to have – they are simply common sense.

Targeted services, where they have been demonstrated to have a positive impact, formed a key recommendation of LGBT Foundation’s recently-published LGBT Action Plan for Greater Manchester, which I was proud to launch and continue to support.

Devolution is a chance to change politics and break out of the old way of doing things. To achieve our ambitions we cannot wait for Westminster – we need to think of our own solutions. Greater Manchester’s history is full of examples of changing politics from the bottom-up and we want to do the same again.

To find out more about the Fabian Society’s health network contact: [email protected]
  • (will not be published)

Please read our community standards