Birmingham’s new mental health champion
Cllr Paulette Hamilton has been appointed Birmingham’s first Mental Health Champion.
And Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser is confident the Handsworth Wood councillor ‘will work tirelessly to ensure that people in Birmingham with mental health issues are better understood and better served.’
Cllr Hamilton has been appointed to help shape services and improve understanding of mental health issues across the city. She explained: “I see my role as linking the city council with communities, the NHS, the police and other agencies. We all have a part to play in breaking down barriers and promoting a wider understanding of mental health.
“I’m really pleased that the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, has asked me to take this role and I think it shows how serious he is about changing the perceptions of mental health in Birmingham.
“Birmingham is a city of health inequalities and people know all about things like the differences in life expectancy across the city. But we are also a city of mental health inequalities and I want to help put that right.
“We have to target the help where it is most needed and not just when someone reaches crisis point or comes into contact with the criminal justice system. We have to target the early intervention programmes where they can be most effective.
“This is not just about the authorities, communities can and must play their part. We have to break the old taboos about mental health to ensure that people don’t become isolated and forgotten about. If someone has a physical illness we rally around and care for them. We have to do the same for people with mental health issues.”
Cllr Bedser announced the appointment at the latest session of a scrutiny inquiry into mental health services and the criminal justice system.
He added: “I know Paulette is very passionate about this issue and she will work tirelessly to ensure that people in Birmingham with mental health issues are better understood and better served.
“There are significant parts of our population who might find that their mental health status leads them to being unduly criminalized – I’m particularly mindful of the experience of African Caribbean men – and that begs a fundamental question about whether the support currently on offer is right and culturally appropriate.
“Paulette will help us address these issues of inequality and I look forward to working with her on such a vital issue.”