Learning global lessons in mental health

A top West Midlands Combined Authority officer has joined an international conference this week to learn from the best new initiatives in mental health.

WMCA wellbeing lead officer and Dudley Council chief executive Sarah Norman is lead officer for the Thrive West Midlands programme to improve mental health in the region.

She is taking part in the International CIty and Urban Regional CoLlaborativE (I-CIRCLE) meeting in Philadelphia and New York, in line with commitments made at the Thrive launch in January.

I-CIRCLE is a groundbreaking initiative, supported by the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL), where cities and urban regions from eight countries work together to solve problems and share innovations.

Sarah said: “We are committed to learning from the very best practice globally and this is a fantastic opportunity through the Thrive Cities network.

“I’m very excited about bringing back new ideas we can put into practice here in the West Midlands and will be reporting to the WMCA Board about what comes out of the visit and how we can benefit from it.”

Norman Lamb MP chaired the WMCA Mental Health Commission, whose work produced the Thrive West Midlands action plan.

Mr Lamb, former minister for health & care in the coalition government, is a tireless campaigner for better mental health awareness and treatment.

He visited Philadelphia during his work for the Commission, to see first-hand the city’s work with urban communities around homelessness, education, employment and criminal justice and the impact on mental health.

He said: “There are significant benefits to getting global recognition for the WMCA approach to whole system leadership and it reinforces the commitment of the West Midlands to improving people’s lives by making communities healthier and more prosperous.

"I am really keen to build a global network of cities pursuing ambitious public mental health strategies so we can learn from each other and build momentum.

“I want the West Midlands to help lead the way - we can have a big impact on people's lives.”

Thrive West Midlands created a benchmark for public, private and third sector collaboration through its commitment to a growing global network of evidence-based approaches across the international arena.

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