‘Voice of the people’ on mental health issues ‘not being heard’ says councillor

Cllr Michael Lilley shares the speech he will make at tonight’s public meeting on the future of mental health services on the Isle of Wight.

depressed woman with head in hands

Tonight (Thursday) from 7pm, anyone concerned about the Isle of Wight council’s plans to axe four Mental Health Day Centres in Cowes, Ryde, Freshwater and the satellite centre in Ventnor, are invited to a public meeting in Newport.

The Isle of Wight council say the closure will save £145,000 per annum.

Public meeting
Taking place from 7pm at Quay Arts, the meeting will provide an opportunity for service users, current and former, as well as family and carers to have their say about the planned closures.

Ryde East councillor, Michael Lilley, has shared the speech below that he will make tonight in response to the petition, along with two documents which should be of interest to anyone concerned about mental health issues on the Isle of Wight.


Listen to IW Voices Asking for HOPE within Mental Health Services by Michael Lilley

I wish to state at the beginning of my statement tonight on the state of IW mental health services that all Island front-line mental health staff and all the service users, carers and families that I have had the privilege to meet are “good people” that love the Island and simply care.

I am sad that I believe they have been let done by an over medicalised model of working, lack of funding and funding not spent to real need, historic poor commissioning and poor  joined up collective Island-wide leadership at the top.

IW Mental Health Blueprint
The IW Mental Health Blueprint (see below) has to be the document that the IW Council, IW Council Public Health (led now by Hampshire County Council), IW NHS Trust, and other Public Stakeholders, is judged on within the context of the current mishandling of the reconfiguration of the mental health day centres.

The word reconfiguration in itself is misleading and interpreted differently depending on who you are speaking to. This blueprint is meant to be the transformation of known inadequate mental health services on the Isle of Wight. This is evidenced by the continuation of CQC listing community mental health services as inadequate. The day centres have to be seen as a day resource within the armoury of community mental health services.

The Blueprint, signed up by all public sector partners, focuses around a joined up approach of all agencies working together. The most important people have to be  the service users, their carers and families. Sadly, this petition provides evidence that this joined up thinking and working together is flawed. I wish to just focus on two current relevant aspects of the Blueprint Action that evidence this statement:

  1. Service User Voices
  • People know about mental health and know how to get their voices heard to help improve and promote local services. IW Healthwatch, many service services users, and I have been calling for improvement of getting the voices heard for 5 years and if these voices were heard especially by the leaders of services why have so many signed the petition and why are we here? The Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care of IW Council (previously Adult Social Care and Health) has listed MH and Suicide Prevention over the last two years as a priority and every member of that committee feels they have not been heard.
  • Enabling our communities to be mentally healthy and have their say. Again why are we here if our communities are being listened to. I am a Ryde IW Councillor and a Ryde Town Councillor and no one came to me or Ryde Town Council to discuss Ribeleau Gardens MH Day Centre in Ryde and its possible closure.
  • Develop communications & engagement programme, with an emphasis on promotion of individual and communtiy resilience,  and to involve the public and those with lived experience of mental ill health to plan, deliver and review our services through a commitment to co-production and regular meaningful engagement, for example, consider options for developing a ‘citizen’s panel’. I have been calling for a citizen’s panel for over 5 years and if there was clearly one in place, why are we here to-night?

2. Suicide and Suicide Prevention
At the last Health and Well-Being Board I as the representative of the IW Voluntary Sector Forum alongside the representative of IWALC, IW Association of Local Councils that represents IW Town and Parish Councils, I voted against the signing off of the proposed IW Suicide Strategy as it had not taken, in my view, into consideration of the recommendations of the “Suicide is not the answer” report (June 2018 – see below) by IW Council Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Adult Social Care and Health.

The IW MH Blueprint states:

  • A person with suicidal thoughts has a safe place to access specialist, empathetic, confidential support – There is no coordinated plan for day and out of hours’ services in each locality.
  • Reducing the number of lives lost through suicide – Numbers are increasing not reducing
  • Review and refresh of suicide prevention strategy, including ‘zero suicide’ ambition with partners- The review by the Policy and Scrutiny Committee has not been properly considered
  •  Implement the suicide prevention strategy action plan, including awareness and training – A suicide strategy that is currently in my view not fit for purpose as it has no funding behind it and NO clear joined up intervention projects or initiatives.

As I read out the above I just think of the people and families I have spoken to over the last year, in fact the last week, they would simply laugh. The IW continues to have a much higher suicide rate than the national average. The report “Suicide is Not the Answer”, which I led on stated that it was clear that men especially older men on the Island were the predominantly high risk group.

Pioneering Men in Sheds project
The voluntary sector had pioneered Men in Sheds on the Island to try and break down the isolation and loneliness of this group but Men in Sheds (led by IW Age UK) have had no one from IW Public Health coming to them about being part of the suicide strategy or offered training or talk to them about the men they have supported when they have been suicidal as the relevant agencies have not intervened in a relevant supportive way.

The present blueprint for Island MH services is fit for purpose but the implementation action plan which states the above is underway! Is not fit for purpose and urgently needs review. Although there is plenty of talk about integration of service in meetings, the reality is very different.

Lack of communication
IW Council Adult Social Care, Public Health (which is now dominated by a Hampshire view of MH), and Children’s Services just do not talk to NHS Trust and IW CCG.

They may agree to the Blueprint but they have different views on implementation. For example, they all have signed up the need for day centres, out of hours services such as Safe Haven, and working towards Zero Tolerance in Suicide Prevention, but instead of working together they continue to “la, la, la” to do their own things, which has resulted in IW Council threatening to close its MH Day Services instead of transforming/integrating these centres into a new network with consultation with staff and the people who use and rely on them. 

I thank everyone that has signed the petition and the bravery of service users who have spoken out.

Full council motion
In partnership with Cllr Geoff Brodie, we are proposing and seconding a motion at next full council on Mental Health Services, as we have raised before on many occasions, that the voice of the people has and still is not being heard.

The key word in the Blueprint is HOPE. I hope you and I are listened to.

Thursday, 6th June, 2019 5:12pm

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Filed under: Health, Island-wide, Top story

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1 Comment on "‘Voice of the people’ on mental health issues ‘not being heard’ says councillor"

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Alternative Perspective

Early intervention and the support these day centres offer is far more cost effective in the long run. Closing them offers nothing more than a short term saving with considerably more costly implications further down the line.