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World Mental Health Day 2021

This World Mental Health Day, with the theme “mental health in an unequal world”, we consider geographic inequities in mental health support, how the pandemic is exacerbating them and what we need to be doing about it.

In a crisis

We’ve all seen this coming. We knew the pandemic was going to intensify existing needs and create new ones. Great mental health support has never been more needed. Yet we are heading for a situation where people will need to be more unwell than ever to access the support they need, when they need it.  According to the Centre for Mental Health: “the equivalent of 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children and young people will require mental health support as a direct impact of the pandemic during the next three to five years. The total increase in demand is around 10 million people. The predicted levels of demand are two to three times that of current NHS mental health capacity within a 3 – 5-year window.”

We know this will horrifically impact so many people – especially those experiencing a mental health crisis. We are already seeing that from our own work – with a marked increase in referrals to our crisis support services from pre-pandemic in 2019 to 2021. To put this into context – between January and March 2019 we received 368 referrals, 396 in that same period in 2020, but 570 in 2021. This equates to an increase of 7% from 2019 to 2020, and then a 43.9% increase comparing the same periods in 2020 and 2021.

It is clear that if we’re seeing more people in crisis, we need to have the right services to support them. As we’ve said before, presenting at A&E can’t be the only option available to someone experiencing a mental health crisis. And the NHS, now more than ever, needs to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and delayed discharges for mental ill-health. Alternative crisis provision, provided in partnership with the NHS, is going to be needed even more in the months and years ahead.

We have been pioneering crisis services for over 17 years – and we’re on course to open our 10th and 11th Crisis Houses this year. These will be Crisis Houses like our Oak House service in Central Lancashire – a safe and welcoming home for up to six people. Someone in crisis will be referred to us by the local Home Treatment Team – and come and stay for between 7 – 14 days. They’ll have their own ensuite room, and work with us to develop their own tailored support package. We pride ourselves on the quality of our accommodation as well as the quality of our support – and our non-clinical crisis bed costs as little as £171/night compared to an average of £406 for a hospital bed, which can rise to £561/night if an Out of Area Placement.

We believe that everyone in England should have the right to access alternative crisis provision like this in their local community – yet right now this sort of provision is patchy at best. People in crisis should not be facing a postcode lottery for support, nor face being sent far away from friends and family

Jobs, homes, friends

Looking at the mental health landscape ahead, we know it’s not going to just be about supporting people in crisis. We’re facing up to a volatile economic and employment situation – and all the uncertainty that will come with it.  Supporting people with mental health needs to stay in and access jobs is a key tenet of our work – and we know that specialist employment services are going to be very necessary in the post-pandemic world.

The NHS Long Term Plan already recognised the importance of models like Individual Placement and Support (IPS) – and we wholeheartedly support this. As the NHS says “it is the best evidence-based approach to help people get and keep a paid job.” Staff in our IPS services (we currently run 11, all in the south of England) meet regularly with the people referred to us to provide support with looking for employment, developing a detailed work preference profile to ensure the work is suited to the individual. Those using the service will receive support and guidance on how and where to look for jobs, help writing effective CVs, cover letters and applications and help to get through interviews. They receive confidential advice on how to disclose health matters, when and how best to do it.

However again we see geographic inequities – with IPS services still at the large-scale trial and pilot stage. At a point where we know we’re going to see more people with mental health needs affecting their employment and job prospects, we need to keep the pressure up for services like these to continue to be invested in and at scale.

This World Mental Health Day we’ve focussed on two areas of our work where we fear inequities, especially geographic ones, could have the biggest impact.  But finally, as a charity that began in supported housing over 60 years ago, we’d never miss the opportunity to reiterate the importance of safe, stable and secure housing in the face of mounting mental health needs.

We offer nearly a thousand residential placements for people across the country – ranging from housing support to help people manage their own tenancies, to supported housing and registered care homes. We know that a stable home is essential for people to have the security to regain positive mental health. However pressurised NHS provision means that in many areas people are stuck in hospital beds, and not being proactively moved from hospital into settled accommodation.

Ultimately we’d like to see, and want to help, more effective pathways of support. Ones that make the most of partnership working and the skills and expertise of the charity sector. We know what best practice can look like – let’s use this World Mental Health Day to keep the pressure up for it to happen on an ambitious and national scale.

World Mental Health Day 2021 – Our Employment Services

At Richmond Fellowship we are marking World Mental Health Day. The theme this year is ‘Mental health in an unequal world’. In our blog earlier today we touched on the inequities we see ahead in mental health support and how the pandemic has intensified people’s needs. We know that we are facing a difficult economic and employment situation in the UK post-pandemic, which will see more people with mental health needs requiring employment support. Our employment services are a key part of our work that can combat this developing situation. In our blog we touch on the need to keep the pressure on for services like our employment services to be scaled up quickly across the country so that we can effectively face this situation and support as many people as we can across the country. 

Our Individual Placement Support (IPS) Employment Services specialise in providing support for people living with or recovering from mental ill health to find paid employment, voluntary work, education, and training or to retain their current employmentOur IPS employment advisors and specialists meet regularly with the people referred to us to not only find employment, but also develop a detailed and tailored work preference profile to ensure the work is suited to their needs. Throughout the pandemic our IPS employment services were able to help many people recovering from mental ill heath retain and find work, in what was and still is an uncertain time. 

The impact of our IPS employment services is undeniable, this model of quality mental health support can have a life-changing impact on the people we support, as well as the environments they work in as we see in Zach’s story below. To show this to you, today we are sharing two recovery stories written from the perspective of our staff from our Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire IPS Employment Service 

The names in these two stories have been changed to protect the identity of the people we support. 

Julie’s Story 

The IPS employment specialist met Julie towards the end of the first lockdown. She had been afraid to go out, hadn’t worked for some time and had no confidence in herself. She found it hard to communicate with others due to not socialising for a long time. Initially, the employment specialist had phone calls and socially distanced walks with Julie. We came to learn how badly bullied she had been in previous corporate roles. She was very artistic and had a background in print and design and was keen to try this again. The employment specialist approached a small, family-based company in Somerset, who offered Julie an hour’s voluntary work a week. It wasn’t long before they were covering her travel expenses, wanting to give something back to reward her for the amazing work she was doing.  

Shortly afterwards, the company offered her an apprenticeship. She has gone from working a few hours a week to doing 4 days a week and her confidence has grown. She now aspires for the future, and it is a joy to see how happy she is in finding a supportive employer. 

Zach’s Story 

The employment specialist has been working with Zach for over 18 months. In this time Zach has experienced a decline in his mental health while at work. However, by working closely with IPS, Zach has gained the confidence to remain in work.  

Zach’s manager has worked closely with the IPS service to help support him within the workplace. He has requested mental health training from IPS for all employees, to allow them to have a greater understanding around mental health and how they can, not just support Zach but also each other. He has also requested extra training to learn more about Zach’s specific mental health diagnosis to help him understand how better to support Zach going forward.  

Zach has stated that he would not be in work without the support that has been given to him from the IPS service and is grateful for the ongoing support.  

Zach’s employer has stated that being supported by IPS has allowed them to better understand mental health within the work place which has inspired them to increase awareness and take a proactive stance within their company to support all employees to maintain good mental health.  

As a result of the ongoing work with IPS and seeing the progress Zach has made, the employer has now stated they are willing to help other clients within the IPS service by offering them the opportunity to earn valuable skills to help them get back into the working environment by offering work experience in several departments within the company. Zach is going to help with the scheme and be a mentor to other clients once this scheme has been set up.  

 

These stories are a positive example of mental health support having a huge impact on people and their daily lives. This World Mental Health Day we are calling for more of this specialist quality support, across the country. We know that it is needed, and for everyone who needs it, now more than ever. 

Make sure you continue to follow along with our conversations this #WorldMentalHealthDay on our Twitter and Facebook 

Good employment is good for mental health

Blog post by Steve Smith-Trask, Managing Director, Richmond Fellowship (South)

Everyone likes to complain about work – yet employment is proven to give us many personal benefits beyond a salary. From a social network to social status, developing self-esteem to developing new skills, employment is good for us. Being out of work can increase the risks of ill health and disease, and can have a particularly negative effect on an individual’s mental health.

Yet, studies have also shown that 1 in 6 employees are currently living with mental health problems; a study by Mind shows that fewer than half of these people feel able to tell their employers. The theme for World Mental Health Day 2017 is mental health and work, a pressing issue in today’s society.

That’s why employment services are one of the five types of support we provide at Richmond Fellowship. With 28 employment services across England, whether someone needs support to find work or to retain employment, our employment advisors provide individualised support for people living with mental health problems.

What does that mean in practice?

Our employment advisors get to know the person, not the CV.

It means that we don’t have targets to meet or quotas to fill. Instead, our focus is on the individual. We work with each person who uses our service to develop a plan based on their own strengths, experiences and goals, being mindful of the mental health problems they are living with. Our employment advisors get to know the person, not the CV. We believe that people using our services can achieve their goals, and we see our role as supporting them. It’s not a tick box exercise. It’s about working together to achieve each person’s goals.

At Richmond Fellowship, we believe that good employment is good for health. What that looks like will be different for each person. We don’t make assumptions about the kind of work that would be suitable for them. For some people that may mean an entry-level job; for others, that may mean a senior management position. Part-time or full-time, permanent or contract work – we work with you to help you achieve the outcome that is right for you.

Good employment is good for health.

It’s crucial that the people who use our services guide their own experience with Richmond Fellowship and have full ownership over their action plan. To help achieve this, we have recently developed a new web app called Aspire. Created by digital production company Mindwave Ventures, Aspire is a flexible, intuitive, and easy to use online portal to help us better support people in the digital age. Aspire allows people who use our services to work collaboratively with their employment advisor to build their action plan, track the steps they are taking, and tick off goals as they are achieved. We’ve had really positive feedback from our piloting of the scheme, and are rolling out across all of our employment services soon.

At the heart of everything we do is the belief that good employment is good for mental health. Our role is to empower the people who use our services to achieve their employment goals, and live their best life.

 

Peterborough mental health employment service grows

Employment 2A national mental health charity is hosting an open day to celebrate the success of its employment services as they move into a new venue.

Richmond Fellowship, part of Recovery Focus, operates an employment service in Peterborough which is hoping to increase the number of people living with mental health problems it supports through moving to a new site. Read more

Bristol employment service rewarded for excellence

bmh_employmentOur Bristol based employment service has gone above and beyond in supporting people with mental health problems to stay in work as well as supporting job seekers.

The Bristol Mental Health Employment Service (BMHES) provides employment services to people living with mental health problems.

In the last six months of 2015, the NHS commissioned service doubled the number of people they’d supported into competitive work whilst maintaining a quick response to all new users of the service. Read more

Old Moat community garden centre outlines expansion plans

The Old Moat - GreenhouseOur community garden centre that supports people living with mental health problems in Surrey is set to unveil its expansion plans.

The Old Moat Garden Centre in Epsom has set its sights on expansion in order to make the enterprise self sustaining following a reduction in funding from the NHS.

The Old Moat has operated in Epsom since 2008 and offers people living with mental health problems employment and training opportunities where they play an active role in the management and operation of the successful site.

Read more

Positive Future for mental health in Havering

Positive Future open day

Positive Future, a community based mental health support service in Havering, enjoyed a very successful opening day as they celebrated a new approach to mental health support.

The service, operated by Richmond Fellowship the national charity making mental health recovery reality, had previously focussed solely on employment support for people who were out of work due to experiencing mental health problems.

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Cambridge woman runs marathon for mental health

Julia prepares for the London Marathon

Julia prepares for the London Marathon

A Cambridge woman completed her first ever London marathon to raise money and awareness for Richmond Fellowship after the charity helped her husband get back on his feet after a vicious mugging left him with severe anxiety.

Julia DeCesare ran the London Marathon to raise money and awareness for mental health charity Richmond Fellowship who helped provide practical and emotional support to her husband Andrew in a time of crisis.

Richmond Fellowship work to make mental health recovery reality for people with mental health problems and operate over 120 services throughout the country.

Read more