Plymouth is 100th council to have a Member Champion for Mental Health


Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health, with Councillor Lynda Bowyer, the 100th Member Champion for Mental Health

Plymouth City Council has become the 100th local authority in England to appoint a member champion for mental health as part of a national scheme to boost leadership for mental health in local councils.

The Mental Health Challenge for Local Authorities is run by a group of national charities. It asks councils in England to appoint one of their elected members as a champion for mental health. Today the Challenge has welcomed its one-hundredth member champion, Cllr Lynda Bowyer.

The Mental Health Challenge supports local authorities across the country to champion mental health in their communities. It began with just two local councils (Dorset and Lambeth) in 2013 and now includes local councils across the country.

Centre for Mental Health deputy chief executive Andy Bell said: “Local authorities have a big role to play in promoting better mental health for all of us and in securing a fairer chance in life for people with mental health difficulties. Member champions across England are now advocating for mental health in council policies and strategies, building partnerships with health services, schools and businesses, and working with their communities to help to combat stigma and improve understanding.

“We are delighted to be in Plymouth today to train member champions from across the South West in how they can lead the way in preventing mental health difficulties and to welcome our 100th council to the Mental Health Challenge. We hope that soon every council in England will have a mental health member champion, and that they will all make a difference in their local areas.”

Martin R White, Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager from Public Health England, South West said: “Public Health England launched the Prevention Concordat for better mental health in 2017 and we are currently promoting this prevention approach. Central to this, is the role of local authority elected members who have an important leadership role to help reduce stigma, improve understanding and advocate for the mental health and wellbeing of the communities they represent.

“We recognise the difference that their local leadership makes and we are keen to support them as they raise the profile of mental health and wellbeing in local communities and forge links with other leaders to collaborate and take actions that tackle some of the widest and most entrenched inequalities in health.”

Councillor Lynda Bowyer was presented with her certificate for becoming a Member Champion for Mental Health.

Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “Improving the mental health and wellbeing of our citizens is a top priority for Plymouth City Council, and I am delighted to be the 100th elected member chosen nationally to become a mental health champion.

“As public health lead for the city we commission a range of health and wellbeing services for residents, working with our partners in the health and voluntary sector. In addition we are currently in year four of our Thrive Plymouth ten year programme to make Plymouth a happier and healthier place, which has a different health focus each year. The focus of Thrive Plymouth this year is on improving mental health and wellbeing, and we are working with schools, businesses and other partners to promote the five ways to wellbeing.”

“We recently also signed the Time To Change pledge to promote mental health and wellbeing to our staff – we have submitted an action plan which includes awareness training for managers and staff, improving our HR policies and guidance, and working to promote open and honest conversations at work with the support of our own Wellbeing Champions.”

Lily Makurah, deputy national lead for mental health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “We are delighted that one hundred local authorities across England now have an elected member champion for mental health through the Mental Health Challenge. The Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health sets out our ambition to support every local authority to promote good mental health in their communities, and elected member champions play an important part in leading the way.”

For more information about the Mental Health Challenge and to find out if your local council has a member champion for mental health, visit www.mentalhealthchallenge.org.uk