Glaswegians Have Their Say Too –

Glaswegians will have their say on future health provision as part of a new ‘holistic’ approach, according to the recent biennial report from Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health NHS Glasgow.

Focusing on mental health, “Keeping Health in Mind: continuing the conversation” released on 23rd January, proposes a bold inclusive debate following years of hard work by respected health care managers. Now Glasgow’s communities will be expected to participate. Some will be daunted by this prospect, but what will be the most controversial aspects of the report?

Support for minimum alcohol pricing – bad news to some but an essential first step to combat misuse and encourage routes to better health, say experts. We all know what is good for us, but few of us really live healthily. In general we are all resistant to change.  Of course this includes all age groups living a more active lifestyle, eating better and being more sociable, but it goes well beyond these things. Ambitiously, the aim is to change people’s mindset about who is responsible for public health. Local communities will have to lead the way.

It comprehensively showcases the social value of many existing schemes,  envisioning a partnership between providers and service users; breaking-down the perceived gap between physical and mental health, in the minds of the general public. A multi-agency approach to mental illness is recommended. The findings address all ages; from pre-natal, children, parents and older people in an effort to break ‘the recurring cycle’; Tackling health inequalities, especially child poverty is key to the prospects for good mental health in later life.

The report was welcomed by Carol Craig, of The Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing, as being “clear comprehensive in nature” and “confronting the problems head-on”. What is required is a fundamental shift in strategy by mental health providers and a corresponding shift in attitudes, away from greed and consumerism, by the community, she suggests. Few would argue that some social change is required, well beyond scrutiny of bankers’ bonuses. Carol Craig suggested that “populations are outflanking the politicians” on issues of health.

It is unclear when or where public consultation will take place, although clearly they will be vital if the changes proposed are to be implemented. Momentum is building – the consensus of opinion is moving towards preventative forms of medicine.  Commentators will be keenly awaiting The Scottish Government’s own health proposals, due shortly, which are likely to reflect or have similar findings to the NHS report.

With tightened public spending, community groups have to provide some of the solutions to the problems they face – which was described as a “challenge or an opportunity if you think imaginatively”. An important part of any public debate resulting from this report will be how we can shift our social priorities away from materialism, for the sake of our own sanity. Everyone knows that prevention is better (and cheaper) than a cure but only wider dialogue will convince the public.

Read the report yourself @ http://library.nhsgg.org.uk/mediaAssets/Public%20Health/Keeping%20health%20in%20mind.pdf

Story by K. Gallagher

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