Councillor Richard Somner has been chosen as West Berkshire Council’s new Mental Health Champion.
At West Berkshire Council’s Annual Council meeting this month, Councillor Somner was appointed as the district’s Mental Health Champion for the 2018/19 municipal year. The decision to formalise this role was taken by elected members to reflect the high profile of mental health issues as well as the key role of local authorities in improving the mental health of everyone in the community and in tackling health inequalities.
Councillor Somner has also formally signed up to the Mental Health Challenge to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2018. This Challenge is an initiative that local authorities across the UK can join in order to promote mental health issues across their area.
The announcement of Councillor Somner’s appointment is timely as West Berkshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board has decided to adopt mental health as one of its main priorities for this year. As part of this, the Board recently established a Mental Health Action Group which will work with public, voluntary and private sector partners across West Berkshire to address this important issue.
Speaking about his appointment, Councillor Richard Somner said:
“I am very proud to have been chosen by my peers to carry out this important role and hope I can make a real difference to the people of West Berkshire.
“1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year and I am sure we all know someone who has been affected. I am absolutely committed to tackling stigma and scrutinising the work we do as a local authority to make sure that everybody’s views are heard and taken into account. I’ll use my new platform to work with the new Mental Health Action Group, which is already making some strides towards this as it seeks to coordinate voluntary and statutory services, putting the experience of services users at the heart of its approach.
“I’m looking forward to working with other councillors and residents across the district to advocate parity of esteem between mental and physical health as well as promoting good mental health and wellbeing across all sections of our community.’
Learn more about the Mental Health Challenge.