Public Mental Health

The Suffolk Public Mental Health programme aims to support, enable and strengthen the protective factors of mental wellbeing; the things that keep us mentally well in our day-to-day lives.

The programme was created following the publication of the 2021 Annual Director of Public Health Report Better Together which recognised the ongoing impact on mental health and emotional wellbeing caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The report recognised that Mental Health services were vital for those who had a clinical need, but that prevention and protection were best carried out within communities.

To support longer term recovery from the pandemic a £2.5m share of the Covid-19 Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) was contributed to support the Public Mental Health programme and to support healing and improved mental wellbeing across Suffolk.

During 2022/23 the majority of this funding was used to support grassroots community wellbeing projects across Suffolk. 

All of the work delivered during 2022/23 and the use of the associated spend has been subject to a rigorous evaluation (both process and outcome). 

Supporting Information:

Wellbeing Across Suffolk

The Public Mental Health team have also worked in partnership with Suffolk Mind to collect information on how well individuals across Suffolk meet the emotional and physical needs that keep them mentally well, via the Emotional Needs Audit

Over 15,000 people across Suffolk completed the Emotional Needs Audit. All data has now been analysed and collated into reports, at both Suffolk-wide level and for specific population groups deemed to be at higher risk of poor mental health.

Data collected between 13th June 2022 and 19th June 2023, 11,211 responses.
Data collected between 13th June 2022 and 19th June 2023, 11,211 responses.

Respondents were asked 15 questions that encompass all elements of the 12 needs, containing both emotional and physical aspects. These are scored on a scale from -3 (not at all met) to +3 (very well met). Averages of scores from all respondents are shown in the graph above.

All reports can be accessed at Reports and Accounts - Suffolk Mind.

As well as assessing how well people were meeting their needs, the audit also gathered information about the things that people felt enabled them to meet these needs, and the things that people felt were barriers to meeting these needs. A brief summary of these barriers and enablers can be seen below:

PMH Barriers and Enablers

Current Work

Findings from the ENA, along with the Mental Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, have been analysed to support the future direction of the public mental health programme. Seven key themes have emerged:

  1. Good work – can be a key barrier or enabler in meeting needs like community, security, and physical needs (e.g., long hours and work stress can be a strong barrier for sleep)
  2. Cost of living and Poverty reduction strategy – links to the barriers and security, but also all other needs like community and physical needs.
  3. Good relationships and community connectedness - ENA respondents suggested better support to get involved locally and more opportunities to socialise.
  4. Improve opportunities for people with pre-existing physical/mental health needs, disabilities and those who are unemployed or unable to work to have good mental wellbeing.
  5. Improve access to information about local services, particularly for those who may not be digitally literate.
  6. Older people needs – Suffolk is rapidly ageing and by 2042 around a third of the population will be aged 65 or over. Older people PMH priorities should include supporting maintaining physical activity and supporting older people with access to NHS Talking Therapies/Suffolk Wellbeing services.
  7. Healthy weight and physical activity – physical needs are amongst the worst met needs in Suffolk.

Following feedback from the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, it was decided that a new stand-alone strategy would not be created, but the approach moving forward would be to work with other partners across the system to embed Public Mental Health priorities into existing strategies based on these themes.

If you would like any support with embedding public mental health in your programme of work please contact us: