In the same month as the anniversary of the 70th birthday of the National Health Service, Councillor Celia Phipps (Labour – Bedminster), a social prescriber by profession, has tabled a motion ahead of Tuesday’s Full Council meeting.

Focused on mental health – with the tragic backdrop of student suicides in Bristol and across the country together with an underfunded NHS and public sector, including local government – Councillor Phipps’ motion will be debated in the chamber, with the majority Labour Group holding the ‘golden’ motion on 17 July (which is guaranteed to be debated by councillors).

Commenting, Councillor Phipps said:

“Mental health still does not have parity of esteem in 2018. More must be done to eliminate the needless stigma still associated with mental health conditions. Public sector workers, including in local government, are facing increased pressure due to continuing central Government austerity and are suffering from increased stress and related illnesses as a result.

My motion, which I hope will be endorsed by all parties, recognises the need for national change. It also takes the time to recognise the good work being done here in Bristol through the Thrive Bristol programme. This ten-year city-wide approach, working together with city partners, aims to improve everyone’s wellbeing and tackle social isolation.”

Notes to Editor

Councillor Phipps recently spoke at the national conference of the Kings Fund, an NHS think-tank, where Bristol won praise for its work to prioritise health and wellbeing.

Organisations such as the Bristol Anti Stigma Alliance (BASA) are working hard across the city to reduce stigma and increase conversations about mental health, led by people with lived experience of conditions.

BCC: Bristol’s Time to Change hub this week launched its Champions Fund – a £10,000 pot of money to help residents with personal experience challenge mental health stigma where they live. Each applicant must be a registered Time to Change Champion and can apply for up to £500. The funding will be used to spark conversations between people who have experienced mental health problems and those who have not. Talking about mental health problems and sharing real life stories helps to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems.

The Centre for Mental Health and others estimate that mental ill health costs Bristol almost £1.4 billion per year. The One City Plan – being pulled together by the Mayor in collaboration with partners from all across Bristol – aims to bring together stakeholders and coordinate strategy and solutions, including on health.

Thrive Bristol, an ambitious new ten-year plan, focusing first on those with the highest needs, is currently being developed alongside this work – inspired by other members of the Thrive Cities network, which include London and New York City: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/mayor/thrive-bristol

Its goals are to:

– Enable individuals and communities to take the lead

– Create a city free from mental health stigma and discrimination

– Maximises the potential of children and young people

– Create a happy, healthy and productive workforce

– Become a city with services that are there when, and where, needed

– Enable people to have enough money to lead a healthy life, and safe and stable places to live

– Become a zero suicide city.

More information on social prescribing, also known as community referral, can be found here: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-prescribing

 Councillor Phipps’ motion, in full:

MENTAL HEALTH

To be moved by Councillor Celia Phipps (Labour – Bedminster ward)

Full Council notes:

  1. Health and Safety Executive estimates of a £5.2 billion annual loss to the UK’s economy from more than 11 million days off due to stress, depression, and anxiety.
  2. Survey statistics published in the local media showing a 70% increase in the number of working days lost to stress at the UH Bristol NHS Trust since 2011, an 80% rise in instances of time off due to stress-related illness at the North Bristol NHS Trust since 2010, and a 210% rise in stress-related absence at the South West Ambulance Service since 2013: comprising a 41% rise over the seven years to 2017, with stress accounting for the greatest number of working days lost due to any type of illness (The Bristol Cable).
  3. That, with local authority budgets now cut by central Government almost half since 2010, last year stress represented the biggest reason for staff absence at Bristol City Council; we welcome this local authority’s progress in promoting agile and flexible working alongside the free Employee Assistance Programme and counselling service for council staff and their families.
  4. The continued underfunding of the NHS, including much-needed mental health services, by the current Government, despite recent un-costed public pronouncements and despite a long over-due pay rise for some staff following years of advocacy from NHS trades unions.
  5. The Marmot Review (2010), which recommended policy-makers to focus on the ‘causes of the causes’, and the programme of Thrive Bristol, published in March of this year.
  6. Its own current position, ratified in December 2017 – which states that ‘austerity has failed’ and that ‘Bristol needs more money and more powers’ – alongside the Mayor and this Labour administration’s commitment to fight austerity and protect public services.
  7. Labour members’ statements and questions at the Health and Wellbeing Board last month highlighting the lack of nurses for children in care; the need for a coordinated position calling for the full funding of the NHS, measures to tackle the recruitment and retention crises, and reinstatement of the NHS bursary for student nurses; and clarity on steps being taken by local NHS bodies and the AWP to monitor and improve staff wellbeing.
  8. That almost one hundred students are sadly believed to have taken their own lives in the last year, thought to include at least a dozen students at the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England since October 2016; the efforts, including a recent march, of Bristol students to highlight these tragic deaths and the need for greater service provision; and the recent conference held by the Universities Minister at UWE Bristol.

Full Council believes:

  1. That the founding our NHS, in the face of opposition from other parties, represents a landmark achievement of the post-war Labour Government.
  2. In parity of esteem between physical and mental health services in this country, and an end to the stigma around conditions requiring support through the latter.
  3. That austerity and underfunding of public services, including our NHS, remains a political choice of national government, initiated by the 2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition (whose then-Bristol MPs voted to abolish Bristol’s Revenue Support Grant, worth £110 million in 2014/15) and continued by the current Conservative Government.
  4. That a national mental health charter for universities which is compulsory, not optional, should be introduced by the Government to build on and quicken steps being taken by universities – who should be working in close partnership with students, the NHS, the National Union of Students, and councils like our own.

Full Council resolves:

  1. To back the Mayor of Bristol’s commitment to Thrive Bristol, a ten-year mental health and wellbeing programme for all ages comprised of public, third sector, and private partners across the city.
  2. To ask the council’s senior leadership team, in consultation with the relevant cabinet member and the chair of the Human Resources committee, to review the completeness of the organisation’s risk assessments into excessive pressure (stress) in the workplace and take the appropriate action.
  3. To encourage all elected members to undergo the training provided around noticing and managing workplace stress and mental health more generally
  4. To recommend that the Member Development Panel consider what additional training and support should be provided or required for councillors in this regard.
  5. To reaffirm the need for public services – including the NHS and councils such as our own – to be fully funded by the Government.
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