Southampton residents say more support needed to boost mental health

Southampton residents say more support needed to boost mental health

Five hundred Southampton residents have responded to the first phase of research commissioned to find out what people think is required to make Southampton a more mental health friendly city.

The survey by Southampton Mental Health Network was focused on what is needed to improve the city’s mental health friendliness and the initial results have yielded some compelling findings.

Esther Ridsdale (pictured) from Time to Thrive, who analysed the research, says: “The biggest takeaway was the strength of feeling that there needs to be more support when needed.

“Many felt that the challenge is rooted in a lack of understanding of mental health and how to improve it and that this leads to people feeling isolated, stigmatised and makes it hard to seek help. 

“What came through was a desire for a holistic approach to considering and improving wellbeing. This included the importance of moving beyond the ‘medical model’ and developing greater understanding of the lifestyle and other factors that enable good mental and physical health, wellbeing and enable a positive experience of life.

“With a better understanding, the challenge will then be to get really creative in exploring ways of enabling these.

“Illustrating the need for a creative response, interestingly, more than a quarter of respondents put ‘more ways to make friends’ in their top three things that would enable Southampton to become a mental health friendly city. 

“Loneliness was identified as both a cause and an effect of poor mental health, making it hard to go out and either develop or maintain friendships. 

“A massive 83 percent of respondents put ‘access to support when needed’ in their top three of actions needed and many commented on how hard it is to get support now. Sixty per cent had ‘education about mental health and wellbeing’ in their top three. 

“So now we are looking to find out what the issues are that people want support with and what type of support, and have launched the stage two questionnaire to get residents’ views.”

Esther and the team at Southampton Mental Health Network are urging more people to be involved in the research and hope others will complete the next phase of survey here soon.

Southampton Mental Health Network became publicly active in 2019 and the current 150 plus members comprise of representatives from around 80 organisations. 

These include the NHS, health professionals, city council departments, and other statutory service providers, through to small community groups, individuals with lived experiences, carers, and the wider public, including businesses.

The initiative is being led and coordinated by Communicare in Southampton, a good neighbours’ charity that operates across the city helping eradicate isolation and loneliness.

Supported by the Southampton City Council and Clinical Commissioning Group’s Integrated Commissioning Unit (ICU), Southampton Mental Health Network aims to bring individuals of all ages together, as well as communities, professionals, service providers, businesses and other organisations. 

Southampton Mental Health Network also hopes to boost resilience and to create a movement based on improving attitudes, understanding and education with regards to mental health in the city.

Collectively the members of Southampton Mental Health Network are all working closely together, sharing information, ideas and resources and looking at ways of influencing outcomes, opinions, actions, attitudes, understanding and the words we use. They want to find out what gaps there are in services, where there might be overlaps, the places in the city where people feel welcome and safe and identify why these places make them feel like this, so more may be created. Membership is free and open to any individual or organisation wishing to become involved.

To find out more about the survey or to join Southampton Mental Health Network and for further information, please visit or call 023 8250 0050.


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