Last week, the Government announced that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is being awarded almost £1.5M for a new mental health hub which aims to bring together a range of services supporting mental health, from psychiatric services in the NHS, through to the police and social services and also groups dealing with drug and alcohol dependency. The idea is that bringing all these services together in one location will help ensure we can get the right support to people quickly.
This is really good news for Cornwall. Of all the successful bids for this funding, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has been awarded the largest sum of money. This new investment is in addition to that previously announced for a young people’s mental health unit in Bodmin. Everyone suffers setbacks in life and for many, the pressures of modern living can cause mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. In recent years, the number of young people affected by mental health problems has increased markedly. Maybe it’s the pressure to fit in and to belong - a sentiment that always existed - but seems to have been heightened by social media in the digital age which is relentless and immediate but often impersonal and sometimes cruel and offensive.
Some good work is done by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) service, which helps children and young people deal with emotional, behavioural or mental health issues, but demand for these services has risen exponentially. There are also some good charities out there which help provide the support needed. A great example is the Invictus Trust.
At the end of last year, the Government published proposals to improve mental health support for children and young people in England. Over £300 million has been made available and planned measures include encouraging every school and college to have a ‘designated senior mental health lead’, setting up mental health support teams working with schools to give children and young people earlier access to services, and piloting a 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services.
There is a growing realisation that mental health is complex and we must be careful not to assume that medical professionals can provide all the answers. They can treat the symptoms to varying degrees of success but we need to think more as a society about how we live our lives and take care to pay attention to our own wellbeing and that of those around us. Of course, there will always be a need for medical interventions on the most serious mental health conditions. However, when it comes to milder and more common conditions such as depression, there have been a number of highly successful projects that show that getting people out into the countryside where they can connect with nature can help. Others have discovered that finding a connection with the soil through gardening or the companionship of pets and the responsibility of caring for animals can help.
We do not yet have all the answers to this growing problem in the modern world, but it is clear that part of the solution lies in the way we all live our lives to try to reduce the number of people needing support in the first place.