INFLUENTIAL organisations across East Sussex joined together to focus on the mental health of the county.
The East Sussex Annual Assembly discussed ways to end discrimination and stigma around mental health and to support people with mental health problems.
The event, held at the International Lawn Tennis Centre, in Eastbourne, was organised by the East Sussex Strategic Partnership (ESSP), made up of public, private, community and voluntary sector organisations, in partnership with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a mental health trust working across Sussex, Hampshire and Kent.
The conference heard from experts on mental health provision for young people and looked at ways people in crisis can be supported in the community. Attendees were also asked to pledge to improve their own mental health and those of others in their organisations.
Steve Mainwaring, ESSP chairman, said: “We were delighted with the positive response to the conference. Our aim was to move the issue of mental health and wellbeing ‘centre-stage’ as this is such a crucial issue for East Sussex residents.
“Crucially we were able to connect strategic leaders in East Sussex with those with a lived experience of mental health issues. We are also delighted that organisations will take the issue forward through the unique pledges they have made so that the conference can have a lasting impact.”
More than 60 delegates attended the event, including representatives from East Sussex County Council, borough and district councils, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and local clinical commissioning groups.
The county council, along with more than 86,000 people and almost 350 organisations across the country, have already signed a pledge to tackle the stigma and discrimination around mental health.
Cllr Keith Glazier, East Sussex County Council leader, said: “We are proud to have signed the Time to Change pledge and have taken action to deliver the pledge. Working together and learning from each other is key in promoting good mental health, both among our own employees and through the services we provide to the public.”
The event featured stands from public, and voluntary and community sector organisations showcasing projects that support people living with mental health issues.
Dr Mokhtar Isaac, clinical director for adult services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Mental health problems can affect everything we do from our physical health to relationships or work.
“It is vital that we work together, as a whole community, to combat stigma and reduce the affect having a mental health problem can have. We need mental health and physical health to be treated with the same importance. Just like physical health, mental health is everybody’s business.”
Discussions and learning from the event will be captured in a report and considered by the ESSP at its meeting in December.