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Thousands of Suffolk residents to be surveyed on mental health this summer to help inform 10-year action plan



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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, which aims to assess where 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.

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. Picture: iStock
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. Picture: iStock

At Thursday's board meeting, project bosses said the survey will encapsulate 23,800 people - around three per cent of Suffolk's population.

The survey is expected to launch in July.

It will effectively work as an expansion of Suffolk Mind's emotional needs audit, but worked with alongside the University of Suffolk so that it is to an academic standard and can be validated against national tools.

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House in Ipswich
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House in Ipswich

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.

"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."

The plan had originally been to capture five per cent of Suffolk's population, but reflections from those involved said three per cent would still provide meaningful data and allow in-depth analysis on those with potentially lower levels of wellbeing.

Jon Neal, CEO of Suffolk Mind. Picture: Suffolk Mind
Jon Neal, CEO of Suffolk Mind. Picture: Suffolk Mind

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."