The Scottish Directors of Public Health are committed to producing a series of delivery plans for each of the six national public health priorities. Priority 3 is ‘A Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing’. These delivery plans are to identify what the Scottish Directors of Public Health group and their teams will do to lead and support activity locally and nationally, in meeting each of the priorities, as well as developing the necessary links with partners to embed delivery. Delivery plans are to be produced by the end of March 2020.
The Public Mental Health Workshop was organised by the national Public Mental Health Specialist Interest Group on 24th February 2020. As Chair of VHS I attended the workshop as VHS’s representative. There were around 30 participants, most of whom were from local Public Health teams or Health and Social Care Partnerships. COSLA and several officers from NHS Health Scotland were also involved.
The national Public Mental Health Specialist Interest Group advises the Scottish Directors of Public Health. The group is made up of public health and health improvement professionals who have a lead role for mental health in their health board and/or health and social care partnership. NHS Health Scotland also attends the group, which has links with the Scottish Government and with COSLA.
The workshop aims were to:
- Support the Specialist Interest Group in the development of a delivery for the Directors of Public Health and their teams
- Discuss how the Directors can deliver the plans through the whole system
- Develop links between the Specialist Interest Group and wider partners on mental health
The workshop was introduced by Jane Bray (Consultant in Public Health Medicine in NHS Tayside) and Trevor Lakey (Health Improvement and Inequalities Manager – Mental Health, Alcohol and Drugs, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde). Jane and Trevor co-chair the Specialist Interest Group. They set the context for the discussion, defining ‘public mental health’ and explaining the role and remit of the Specialist Interest Group. Examples were provided from Glasgow and from Dumfries and Galloway of current work to improve mental health with local communities and with different population groups.
The rest of the morning was devoted to discussion in groups to explore and prioritise themes for the delivery plan. Participants then went on to look at the activities necessary to take these themes forward through the whole system, consider what the Specialist Interest Group could do to support such activity and what further steps might be required.
The key themes emerging were mainly about process:
- Embedding mental health and wellbeing in other strategies and plans, including the delivery plans for the other five public health priorities
- The importance of partnerships to make change happen and sustain it – there was a recognition that the third sector is key and also that stronger connections with academics with an interest in public mental health would be beneficial
- The need to consider key life stages and transitions which have an impact on mental health and wellbeing
- The opportunity for the Directors of Public Health and the Specialist Interest Group to work with leaders and influencers across the system to build momentum and engage more effectively on a public mental health agenda
- Scope to share information and learning from the various examples of good work on public mental health across Scotland throughout the whole system. Mention was made in my group of a recent Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy from NHS Lanarkshire which has a strong focus on prevention and early intervention and was developed with partners.
The outputs of the workshop are to be written up and used to inform a draft delivery plan. Jane Bray and Trevor Lakey undertook to share this draft with workshop participants in the coming few weeks to invite comments. It is envisaged that the plan will be a relatively brief, high level document. In the longer term, the Specialist Interest Group is interested in developing its connections with key partners, including the third sector and there may be scope for a further event later in the year with this focus. VHS is interested in being an active partner in this and will make available any further information on the delivery plan and future related events in due course.
Allyson McCollam is Chair of VHS. Read more about her here.