Royal Borough has seen ‘improvements’ to mental health – but the lead member for health urges those to still get help during lockdown.

Before the month-long national restrictions were announced by the government, UK mental health charities feared a second lockdown will take a ‘heavy toll’ on people’s mental health and called for more support.

Last month, the Royal Borough’s community mental health team reported they’ve seen a 28 per cent increase in contacts with more people coming forward with complex cases.

Councillor Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill), lead member for adult social care, children’s services, health, and mental health, told the Observer it is a ‘concern and worry’ even before the lockdown in March – but has seen improvements in the borough.

He said: “We have worked, pre-pandemic, on an ambitious mental health strategy with NHS colleagues and as part of the new footprint, the new strategic health partnership across the local area and national region, a much greater emphasis over the last 18-months or so on mental health.”

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He added: “We have seen improvements locally and that’s very, very good and pleasing to see – but of course, now being in this pandemic world it’s vital for all us to seek to protect our mental health.”

The Royal Borough has been ‘advancing’ the Talking Therapies where people who suffer from specific mental health challenges and conditions can turn to.

Cllr Carroll urged people to still book an appointment with their GP if they are suffering from mental health and for people to utilise technologies to stay in contact with one another as well as exercising in a compliant manner to the national guidance to improve mental health.

The volunteering network can also be used for people who are shielding or are isolating.

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He also said he has been pushing for improvements to the child and adolescent mental health services – which support young people with their mental health – and for mental health services to have better accessibility for children and young people who need them.

The lead member has called for the borough to celebrate some of their young people who “continue to do extraordinary things in extraordinary times”.

The council has an ‘informal’ and ‘relaxed’ corporate parenting forum – which is chaired by Cllr Carroll – where youth ambassadors and children in care can set agendas, speak their minds, and articulate their experiences on improving on services or requesting policy changes to parts of the council’s services.

Workshops and exercises have been run by young people as well as simulations of what it’s like to be taken in care have also been incorporated in the forum as well to shape council policies around services.