'I just can't imagine it' - council leader speaks about lack of mental health support in North Norfolk after Cromer suicides
PUBLISHED: 17:09 14 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 15 November 2018
The leader of a Norfolk council has spoken about a lack of mental health services in the area and said he "can't imagine" what families who have lost sons to suicide are feeling.
After at least two young men took their lives in Cromer earlier this year, bereaved parents, a mental health campaigner and a former GP linked their deaths to a lack of accessible mental health support.
Councillor John Lee, leader of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), has spoken out about the issue.
He said: “There is help out there but from what I’ve established there’s nothing local. It’s all down to funding.
“I just can’t imagine it, and as a father of three children I don’t want to imagine it.”
Mr Lee spoke after a meeting in Cromer of a group aiming to address the issue of mental health support in north Norfolk.
He said: “Richard Leeds and I assumed we would try and set up some kind of drop-in centre or a space where young men in particular can pop in but these things have to be staffed.
“We just feel something needs to be done to offer support or help to the young people in the town, particularly young men after the events in the summer.
“We came to the conclusion that we’d try and set up family events to get people to talk more.
“We’re going to start with a games event and invite children and families to play together.”
The group, which includes headmasters, representatives from the mental health charity Norwich Mind and from Cromer Church, a doctor, and parents are hoping to hold their first event at Cromer Academy in February.
Mr Lee added: “People are really interested and really keen to get involved and make a difference.
“With the suicides we’ve had in Cromer this year you just feel something has got to be done.”
A spokesperson for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) which provides some mental health services in the district said: “All of our teams, ranging from our children, families and young people’s services to our older people’s services, see service users and patients in their own homes or other local locations, such as GP practices, schools or colleges.
“For example, in north Norfolk, staff from our adult services support more than 500 people aged 26-75 with severe or enduring mental health issues, all of whom have been visited by our staff in their own home.
“Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney has local bases in north Norfolk and uses community facilities, such as village halls, in the district.
“Our staff also signpost service users to other local resources, such as the men’s sheds in North Walsham and Sheringham.”
• Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney (and Wellbeing Suffolk) can be accessed via 0300 1231503 or www.wellbeingnands.co.uk and the free Samaritans helpline can be accessed by calling 116 123 from anywhere in the UK.