THE FIRST-ever major review of Southampton's mental health services launches today.

City council staff are teaming up with health chiefs to look at current provision in the city and identify gaps for improvement and development.

The 'strategic overview' is being led by Southampton's Health and Wellbeing Board, with support from Southern Health NHS Trust and Southampton Clinical Commissioning Group, which governs GPs in the city.

And it will include a conference at Southampton Solent University in December to bring together service users, carers and organisations associated with mental health.

An estimated 60,000 people in Southampton suffer from mental health issues with one third of GP appointments in the city mental health-related.

Cllr Dave Shields, chair of Southampton's Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Mental health problems can have a big impact on every aspect of our lives: relationships, employment, housing, and health. That's why we need a whole-city, integrated approach to developing services. I hope this strategic overview will improve the way different organisations work together, and give people with mental health problems a bigger say in what's needed in Southampton.”

Daily Echo:

Cllr Dave Shields

Dr Shanaya Rathod, clinical director in mental health for Southern Health, added: “People are starting to realise that homelessness, mental health, substance abuse and violence are all linked together and people with mental health problems do not always get the same access to care as other patients with conditions like strokes or diabetes.

“We are trying to bring about a culture where these patients have a voice and feel part of the services they are delivered.”

Charity Healthwatch will also be involved by researching the views of service users to ensure they have a say in the review.

Rob Kurn, manager of Healthwatch Southampton, said: “Having campaigned for some time about the issues people with mental health problems face, we are delighted to see the main partners taking a joined-up approach to improving local services.”

It is the latest city council initiative to tackle mental health problems in Southampton after it was revealed 5,500 children were battling illnesses.

As reported by the Daily Echo, the council received £500,000 from Big Lottery Fund for HeadStart, launched last month, to safeguard 11-14-year-olds in three secondary schools - Cantell, Redbridge and Chamberlayne - through special lessons and mentoring schemes.

  • HAMPSHIRE Police has seen one of the largest drops in the country for the number of mentally ill people in custody.

The force is highlighting the 80 per cent reduction over the past two years as part of World Mental Health Day, which takes place today.

Officers have been working with partners in health and social care to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses, with the average number in cells dropping from more than 40 per month in 2012 to just eight in 2014.

In the same period, police have seen a 10 per cent reduction in the use of its vehicles transporting people detained under the Mental Health Act.

  • TODAY marks World Mental Health Day, which this year is focusing on schizophrenia, an illness that affects around 2,700 people in Southampton.

Several events take place today aimed at sufferers, including a walk through Southampton Common, a debate at Central Baptist Church from 12noon-2pm and a 'recovery choir' singing session at Sembal House in the Polygon from 2.30pm.

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