Live Well Kent, a new community mental health and wellbeing service, was officially launched at Canterbury Christ Church University today (17 May).
Speaking at the event for service users, Cllr Graham Gibbens, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, delivered a keynote address before Emma Hanson, KCC’s Head of Adult Community Support, Strategic Commissioning, set out the details of how the authority designed the service and what support is available.
Earlier this year, Shaw Trust and Porchlight were confirmed as the strategic partners delivering the new Live Well Kent contract.
The service was commissioned jointly by Kent County Council (KCC) and the seven clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) for Kent (but not Medway).
Graham Gibbens, KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “We already know that approximately one in four people will have a common mental illness during their lifetime and this can affect every element of their lives.
“By bringing together the different services and resources that exist locally, and by making this information readily accessible, Live Well Kent should enable more people with mental health issues to have the very best support as early as possible and will ultimately enable them to lead a better life.
“We are committed to enabling people who experience mental health issues to be supported in their communities and on their recovery journey, to achieve the outcomes that are important to them.”
Shaw Trust will run the community support services in West Kent, Ashford and Canterbury areas and Porchlight will have responsibility for Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley, Swale, Thanet and South Kent coast areas.
Live Well Kent aims to promote people’s recovery from mental health challenges and their inclusion in day-to-day life.
There is also targeted support to help individuals enjoy a better quality of life, gain greater independence and achieve economic wellbeing. Service users accessing this support will find it is designed to complement existing NHS mental health provision in Kent.
The launch of Live Well Kent also coincides with national Mental Health Awareness Week – this year’s theme is relationships.
Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of Shaw Trust, said: “Live Well Kent is targeting community services where it is needed to achieve better outcomes and address mental health needs across the county. By combining our knowledge of health, employment and skills, we are going to tackle isolation and help more individuals to feel part of their local community.
Mental Health Awareness Week brings an important focus on the need to help more people overcome the mental health challenges holding them back from living a more independent life.”
Chris Coffey, Porchlight’s head of community and preventative services, said: “Previously, various organisations were funded out of different pots of money.
“Now they’ve been brought together under the Live Well Kent umbrella. If somebody asks Live Well Kent for help, we can offer them a whole range of options to help them improve their mental health and wellbeing.
“The service also complements others that are available. For example, if somebody goes to GP with anxiety there may be underlying issues that the GP doesn’t have time to address such as housing concerns, benefit concerns or being out of work and seemingly unable to make any progress. These are issues that we’re able to address.”
For more information about the support services in Kent, go to http://livewellkent.org.uk