Council defends scrapping of mental health champion

Emma Corlett has refused calls for her to stand aside in North Norfolk Pictures: supplied by Emma Co

Emma Corlett has been Norfolk County Council's mental health champion since 2013. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk County Council has been accused of not understanding mental health as it scraps its champion role. 

Emma Corlett, Labour councillor for Town Close, was appointed in 2013 as part of the Centre for Mental Health led scheme and has criticised the decision as a "cop out" to include the responsibilities within other champion roles. 

Tweeting about the change, she wrote; "In a regressive and shameful step, Tory administration has arbitrarily axed the role of member champion for mental health. A role I worked really hard at for the last eight years in non-partisan way.

"Speaks volumes about their priorities."

Ms Corlett said mental health would be the most critical health issue in the coming years due to the pandemic and needed someone in the role, even if it was not her.

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She said: "I think it shows they do not entirely understand. It is a real cop out to say it is a golden thread. 

"I've spent a lot of time trying to advocate on behalf of people not able to access the right service, people can raise concerns about what is going wrong."

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Councillor Graham Plant, deputy leader of the council, said after May's elections the council has allocated 12 champion roles in line with cabinet portfolios and these would be "under constant review".

He said: "Norfolk County Council understands and appreciate the need for excellent mental health services across the county.

"Mental health is the golden thread linking many of the new roles together, such as older people, apprentices and young people and disabilities, this will play a crucial and enhanced role in the work carried out and has not been forgotten."

Caroline Aldridge with her book He Died Waiting about her son Tim. Picture: DENISE

Caroline Aldridge with her book He Died Waiting about her son Tim. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Caroline Aldridge, whose son Tim died while fighting mental health trouble, said it was "short-sighted" to lose a specialist role that has supported service users, their carers and bereaved families since 2013 and merge within other roles. 

She said: "I do not think they understand the scale of the crisis in mental health in Norfolk. 

"I do not think there has been a more important time for it. The timing is just terrible." 

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