Most mental illness begins before adulthood and often continues through life. Improving mental health early in life will reduce inequalities, improve physical health, reduce health risk behaviour and increase life expectancy, economic productivity, social functioning and quality of life.
Interventions that promote positive mental health and emotional wellbeing (resilience) usually lie outside the control of the health sector and usually, prevent mental health problems and produce a broad range of benefits associated with improved wellbeing. Key headline data on areas impacting on mental wellbeing in Bexley are listed below and explained in more detail within the chapter.
- Bexley has lower levels of deprivation than the England average with less than 10% (9.2%) of its population living in the most deprived quintile and approximately 53% living in the two least deprived quintiles (24.3% in least deprived). There are significant differences in child poverty levels across Bexley ranging from 36% of children living in poverty in Thamesmead East down to 11% in Brampton. It is important to highlight that the wards with the highest number of children and young people are also those with the highest percentages that live in poverty.
- In March 2017 there were 1,016 households in temporary accommodation. This included 1,808 children.
- In Bexley 41% of the school age population (5-16 years) were from BAME populations. By far the largest ethnic group amongst this were of Black African ethnicity (19%). With increasing ethnic diversity it is important to better understand the mental health needs across different ethnic groups
- Data from the Office for Policing and Crime shows that in the year to September 2017 there were 3,565 domestic incidents reported of which 1,902 were domestic abuse incidents 588 were for domestic violence with injury
- Education plays a significant role in both risk and resilience factors for mental Across 38 Bexley schools responding to the question on the estimated number of children and young people (with mental health and emotional wellbeing issues) that their staff are supporting, the total number was between 2,452 and 2,682. Additionally, 2 schools reported that around 30% of their pupils needed support for mental health and emotional problems
- Educational attainment is one of the most important determinants of future health outcomes and is a protective factor for mental health in children and adults
- The 2016/17 percentage of Bexley pupils achieving good GCSE standards in English and Maths was 9% higher than the national out-turns. Bexley’s rate was 1% higher than London and CYP comparators’ average achievement levels.
- In Bexley (at the end of 2016) there were 220 (3.7%) 16-17 year olds registered as NEET, a 0.9% fall since 2015. This is lower than the London averages (5.3%) and lower than all the Bexley CYP comparator areas.
- Local Bexley data shows that 26% of Bexley residents (people in work who responded to survey) earned less than the London Living Wage in 2015. This is the 13th lowest of all London boroughs and is lower than the outer London average of 29%. The rates in Bexley have risen steadily from a low of 20% in 2012.
- One of the strongest and most consistent findings in the wellbeing literature is that being unemployed has a negative impact on subjective wellbeing
- 5% of Bexley (5,700 people) working age population are unemployed (December 2017). This is in line with the national average of 4.6% and lower than the London average of 5.3%.
- Alongside unemployment, health is one of the most regularly identified determinants of subjective wellbeing
- In terms of mental wellbeing health is often measured using a three-indicator domains: physical activity, healthy life expectancy and estimated prevalence of mental health disorders. Bexley has poor levels of physical activity but higher than average healthy life expectance and lower than average rates of Mental Health Disorders, than both London and National averages
- Average rating of Life satisfaction in Bexley was 7.55 out of 10, in line with the average London and England average. The same survey shows that happiness of Bexley residents was rated as 7.39 (out of 10) in Bexley, slightly lower compared to 7.45 England (7.45), and in line with London Happiness ratings of 7.38
- Evidence shows that an additional wellbeing benefit, and that people are happier when they are in green (or indeed blue) spaces. 32% of the borough surface has green space. 1% higher than the London average. However within Bexley 40% of households within 4 out of 21 wards have deficient access to nature
- The fear of crime is a regular predictor of subjective wellbeing. Bexley has a relatively low fear of crime with 29% of Bexley residents very or fairly worried about crime compared to a London average of 31% placing Bexley as the 14th lowest London Borough in terms of fear of crime.
 ONS. Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics: January 2017 – Local Authority Tables. Department for Education 2017