Suffolk's mental health to be examined in major survey

Concern has been voiced about more young people experiencing mental health challenges

Three per cent of the Suffolk population will be asked about their mental health in a new survey - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A countywide survey to assess the mental health of people in Suffolk is set to begin this summer – with nearly 24,000 people set to take part.

A £2.5million sum was committed last year on a public mental health scheme following Covid-19 to assess how the county is following the impacts of lockdowns, economic uncertainty and the loss of loved ones.

Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board said it would form a baseline of mental health needs that would then inform a 10-year action plan.

At Thursday’s board meeting, project bosses said the survey will encapsulate around 3% of Suffolk’s population and launch in July.

Sarah Dunling-Hall, specialist registrar in public health, said: “This is a big part of the programme, and it will guide all of the other work moving forward.

“There are two phases of this work, and these are based on building and expanding the Suffolk Mind emotional needs audit, which captures information on the emotional and physical needs we all need to stay mentally well.

“The initial phase is about working with the University of Suffolk to ensure the survey is being used to capture information on emotional needs is academically robust, and what I mean by that is that we have real confidence that it is reliable and valid.

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“The second phase is about using that validated tool to expand data collection so that we have information from across the entire Suffolk population.

“We are trying to translate the data we collect into action.”

Jon Neal, the chief executive of Suffolk Mind Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk Mind CEO Jon Neal

Jon Neal, Suffolk Mind chief executive, said: “Suffolk Mind already has 11-12,000 pieces of data from the population of Suffolk that we have gathered over the last few years, but it has all been gathered online, it has all been promoted through social media advertising and then topped up with particular organisations we have worked with. It is not demographically representative of the population of Suffolk, and that is what we want to shift.

“A big part of the cost is getting human beings on the doorstep in town centres, village centres and actually talking to the population of Suffolk, and encouraging them to fill in the emotional needs audit.”