Mental health and healthy eating in Hartlepool to come under microscope

Mental health  prevention will be looked at by Hartlepool councillors.
Mental health prevention will be looked at by Hartlepool councillors.

Mental health and healthy eating will come under the scrutiny of councillors over the next year.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee met yesterday to decide what issues they will focus on in the next 12 months.

The mental health aspect will focus on prevention and comes after a motion referred to the committee by the full council last year.

It called for ways to be found to improving access to the availability of mental health services within the borough for all residents.

A report on the issue to the committee said: “One in four people will experience mental health problems at some point during their life.

“Mental ill-health is common, with a significant impact on individuals, their families and the whole population.

“Mental health needs in Hartlepool are higher than the national average.”

It added 22.8% of the burden of disease in the UK is due to mental disorder and self- reported injury compared to 15.9% for cancer and 16.2% for cardiovascular disease.

The exact scope of the committee’s work on metal health will be decided at a future meeting.

Councillor Sue Little said the nearest facility for mums and children to get support was in Leeds.

And Coun Sandra Belcher highlighted a lack of post natal depression services locally.

Coun Hall said child mental health should be looked at as part of the work.

Joan Stevens, a statutory scrutiny officer for the council, said the audit committee’s work would add to a ‘deep dive’ on mental health being undertaken by the Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board.

Councillor Lesley Hamilton said healthy eating is one of the biggest issues affecting the town.

She said: “There are so many issues associated with that, certainly in terms of children.

“We have some real problems with children who are terribly overweight, we deal with lots of deprivation and families haven’t got the skills to be able to tackle those issues.

“That’s having an impact on children’s services, on health services, many other things.”

To begin with, the audit committee will receive an update on a Healthy Weight Strategy developed by the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Coun Brenda Loynes, chair of the committee, said she recently saw a 12-year-old girl being given a bag of sweets for her breakfast by her mother.

Coun Loynes said: “I think we have got to try and reach out to parents as well.”

The committee is also still looking at the quality of local maternity services which it began last year.