Faith and voluntary organisations came together this week to break the stigma around mental health and play their part in transforming services across Greater Manchester.
More than 150 people attended the conference on Monday 26 September to find out more about the region’s commitment to improve the mental health and wellbeing of local people, and develop new ways of working with health and social care organisations to make sure changes to mental health services benefit the people who use them.

People who have suffered mental health problems will share their experiences of mental health services in Greater Manchester, including what went well and where improvements can be made.

Speakers included Jon Rouse, the new Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Greater Manchester Mental Health Strategic Partnership Board, and Reverend Canon Dr David Holgate from Manchester Cathedral. 

Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Greater Manchester Mental Health Strategic Partnership Board, said: “Faith groups, voluntary organisations and local communities can play a huge part in transforming mental health services and improving the mental health and wellbeing of our communities. Now is the opportunity for statutory services to work even closer with communities, supporting people and dispelling the myths that surround mental illness. I look forward to hearing how we can work together to create a healthier, happier Greater Manchester.”

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The devolution of health and social care has given Greater Manchester a unique opportunity to transform services on a scale we haven’t seen before, putting local people at the heart of the system. This event provides the ideal platform to work with grassroots organisations to ensure the changes to mental health services, focussing on early help and prevention, actually make a difference to the people of Greater Manchester.”

Jonny Wineberg, Convenor of the Greater Manchester Interfaith Network and Chair of Manchester Jewish Care Forum, said: “Mental health is a key issue across our communities and the range of support from faith-based organisations is often not recognised. Befriending, counselling, mentoring and many other projects are run by churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and many charities, without which demand for NHS services would be far greater. This conference will hopefully strengthen the links between the NHS and the faith sector, providing new opportunities for collaboration as the devolution agenda begins to be implemented.”

Lord Peter Smith, GMCA lead for health and social care, said: “Everyone will know someone who has been affected or have themselves needed support due to mental health issues. Through Devolution, we are committed to developing a radical new approach to mental health services which puts individuals and families first and joins up health and community services. The faith and voluntary sector have a key role to play in helping to develop services which contribute to improved wellbeing and health for vulnerable people.”

Greater Manchester’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, launched earlier this year, sets out a new and ambitious approach to prevention and early intervention, bringing communities, employers, education authorities and health and social care organisations together to improve the mental health and wellbeing of individuals and families. This includes 24/7 mental health services for children and young people, a Greater Manchester-wide approach to suicide prevention, improving access to community-based services, and working with employers.


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