A LERWICK councillor has reiterated the importance of mental health on the first day of this year’s Shetland Mental Health Awareness Week.
Stephen Leask said in the council chamber on Monday morning that it was “something we can’t take our eye off” as a drop-in information event was preparing to take place upstairs in the Town Hall’s main room to launch the awareness week.
The issue reared its head during Monday’s meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) policy and resources committee.
Members heard that £79,000 of savings had been found in the community health and social care directorate in mental health mainly through two members of staff at support service Annsbrae being on secondment and relief staff only being provided when required.
Simon Bokor-Ingram, chief officer of the health and social care partnership integration joint board, reassured councillors that a recent mental health review did not mean a reduction in service.
“It has meant that the services had a really good scrutiny,” he said.
Leask said as Shetland Mental Health Awareness Week kicked off that it was a topic that needs continued focus.
“We have to keep mental health as a significant issue that always has to be of high concern for Shetland,” he said.
Leask added that issues like mental health and young people could be seen as “spend to save” areas with long-term benefits.
“What we are trying to achieve is for the wellbeing and betterment of the individuals in our community,” the councillor said.
Members of the policy and resources committee were also told that a new dedicated section on mental health has been added into a refreshed joint strategic commissioning plan for health and social care in Shetland.
The wide-ranging plan, which covers 2019-22, was approved by the committee before it goes up in front of the full council on Wednesday.
This year’s Shetland Mental Health Awareness Week will run through to Sunday (19 May), with a wide range of activities and events planned across the isles.
The programme for the awareness week can be found here.