Why is it a priority?
Nearly a quarter of the total burden of disease in the UK is due to mental disorder. It is estimated that around 28,000 Greenwich residents have a common mental illness such as depression or anxiety, of whom 75% will be receiving no treatment. Prevalence is higher among those with a long term physical health condition.
Rates of common mental illness are higher in Greenwich than other areas, with admissions for neuroses the highest in London and admissions for depression the 3rd highest in the capital. Mental illness has a wide impact across individuals and society, with nearly half (49%) of people out of work and claiming ESA doing so because of a mental or behavioural disorder.
What could make a difference at a local level?
Reducing the prevalence of common mental illness hinges on influencing a wide array of underlying factors. Acting to increase employment, reduce poverty and debt and improve quality of housing (including cold homes/fuel poverty) are important local preventative measures. Social Isolation, unhealthy workplaces and the impact of providing care are significant drivers of common mental illness, and action to address these issues can provide protection against mental ill health. The impact of physical health on mental health means that programmes to improve and prevent physical illness will have associated benefits for mental health.
Improving identification and assessment of CMI in primary care and community health and social care services will increase access to evidence based treatment.
What are the opportunities for improvement in Greenwich?
- To address social isolation, through befriending, social groups, time-banks and volunteering interventions. A Social Isolation Strategy Group leads work across this area.
- To combat the extent and impact of poverty—see JSNA Poverty priority.
- To improve the physical and social environments in which people live. This a key priority of the 2015-18 Health and Wellbeing Strategy, supported by a multi-agency Improving Mental Wellbeing Co-ordinating Group. Actions that contribute to this agenda will cut across housing, safety and community development issues, from improving housing stock in the private sector to rolling out ‘social prescribing’.
- Concentrating efforts to improve the first 1001 days of life—see JSNA 1001 days priority.
- Improving detection and treatment of CMI in Primary Care. Greenwich’s Health Checks Plus programme already screens for depression in target group and the developing ‘social prescribing’ programme provides an opportunity for primary care to refer patients living with or at risk of mental health difficulties into local community-based non-clinical activities and support.