A SERIES of pledges for the future have been made at North Yorkshire's first-ever Mental Health Summit.

People with mental health issues joined leaders from the NHS, county and district councils, housing and the voluntary sector at the summit, held in Harrogate.

It was called to raise awareness of mental health issues and to begin to address concerns about levels of mental health support in the county.

“We decided to bring people with first-hand experience of accessing mental health services together with people from a wide range of health, social care and public, private and community sector organisations,” said County Councillor Michael Harrison.

“This day has given us an insight into how we better understand mental ill-health and best provide and improve mental health services.

“The summit provided invaluable feedback that will help us to move in the right direction”.

More than 100 delegates made pledges on a range of actions. Richard Webb, the county's corporate director for health pledged to push ahead with improvements to mental health services across the county and to share personal insights and experiences where they helped to raise awareness and tackle stigma.

Cllr Harrison pledged that all county council managers would have further training to understand mental health condition better.

The chief officer for the NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG, Amanda Bloor, said mental health should be regarded as equally important as physical health.

“There should be no difference in the quality and breadth of provision and our task now is to work with the people and services in North Yorkshire to ensure this is the case," she said.

Gareth Atkinson, a telecommunications technician, shared his personal experience of living with mental health issues, his daily battle with anxiety and depression and how he uses his interest in wildlife photography to help him manage that.

He also encouraged delegates to acknowledge that “It’s OK not to be OK” and talked about steps employers can take to help people with mental health issues..

Cllr Harrison said: “The urgent need for better mental health services has become a national priority. We called this summit to bring the issue to the top of the agenda in North Yorkshire."