cfmhCouncils across England are being asked to pledge their support for better mental health in their communities by taking on the Local Authority Mental Health Challenge.

Councils taking part in the Challenge nominate a ‘member champion’ for mental health whose role is to promote mental health issues in all areas of the council’s business and in the wider community. Member champions are seen as crucial to enable local authorities to fulfil their potential to promote mental wellbeing in their communities and improve the lives of people with mental health conditions.

The member champions receive support and advice from six mental health organisations: Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and YoungMinds.

Councillors from 10 councils have already signed up to the Challenge. They are: Camden, Dorset, Durham, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth, Leicester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Solihull. Member champions were a recommendation for local authorities in the government’s mental health strategy implementation framework.

Councillor Michael Bevan, of Dorset County Council, became England’s first member champion for mental health in 2010. He said: “In a civilised, progressive era stigma surrounding mental issues still reflects the ignorance and suspicion reminiscent of bygone centuries. We need greater strides in the field of education coupled with increased understanding in the workplace. It is the duty of us all to work towards these aims.”