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Mental health

London Councils are working on mental health in the capital

  • By Kathryn Gill

The need for good mental health for Londoners is clear. Mental ill health affects almost every aspect of a person’s life, from their education and employment to their physical health and the quality of their relationships. The repercussions of this across London, where it is estimated that one in four will suffer diagnosable mental ill health in any given year, impacts substantially on London’s economy, infrastructure and population. Mental health is not simply an issue for health and social care. It is an issue for everyone. In the capital, almost £7.5 billion is spent each year addressing mental illness. This includes spending on health and social care to treat illness, benefits to support people living with mental ill health, and costs to education services and the criminal justice system. The Great London Authority estimated in 2014 that the wider health, social and economic impacts of mental illness cost London around £26 billion per year. There are particular issues unique to London demographics, such as population churn, a greater population of younger people, and a higher proportion of the population coming from the BAME community, which presents distinct issues when dealing with mental health.

London Councils are working to improve the mental health of Londoners. We are:

  • Working on keeping people with mental health issues in work, which has been shown to improve their mental health. We are working with the Department for Work and Pensions to give greater support to Londoners with mental health problems when trying to find and retain work, through proposed changes to the work and health programme.
  • Working with the GLA on their mental health roadmap, which is a plan to help prevent poor mental health in London by making suitable interventions at certain points of a person’s life when they may experience problems. It is based on the New York Thrive model, focusing on a city-wide vision for improving mental health, engaging Londoners in tackling stigma and creating momentum for system change.
  • Working with individual boroughs on their mental health work. For example, working with Haringey on mental health and employment, and piloting new ways of supporting more people into sustainable employment.
  • Working with NHS England and Association of Directors of Public Health on the Stolen Years project. This aims to improve the physical health of people with a serious mental illness, as those with poor mental health are more likely to smoke, have much lower than average mammography rates, have a shorter lifespan after being diagnosed with cancer, and receive less treatment after having a heart attack. A third of people in London with mental health problems suffer pain that interferes with their quality of life with no intervention. 
Kathryn Gill, Policy and Projects Officer, Health