Posts

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 

Supported Housing Social Media Week – #OurSupportedHousing

This week we are dedicating all our social media accounts to our Supported Housing services!

Did you know that Supported Housing is where Richmond Fellowship started – over 60 years ago? These days we’ve grown to deliver a wide range of mental health services, but we continue to be pioneers in the field of supported housing. We know that people need to feel safe, secure and supported in their accommodation in order to be able to focus on their mental health. Our supported housing services provide people with a real home as well as access to support from Richmond Fellowship’s team of highly trained recovery workers.

We now have over 50 supported housing services across England, and all our residents receive individually tailored support plans from a highly trained team to support them on their recovery journey. Our staff work with our residents to create a model of support that best suits their needs and goals.

“Richmond Fellowship helped me with life skills and built my confidence up. I went from being in and out of hospital all the time to managing my symptoms using techniques Richmond Fellowship taught me. I’ve been out for two years, and I thank them for that.”

Person we supported

All week we are going to be giving you a look behind the doors of our supported housing – you’ll meet the staff; hear from the people we support and see what really happens in this type of specialist housing.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Supported Housing this week and check out the hashtag #OurSupportedHousing.

To find out a bit more about our Supported Housing click here.

World Mental Health Day – Leaving Hospital After Ten Years

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma.  This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Maggs, a person we support living in one of our 24 hour community support services, shares her story of moving from the criminal justice system into our services.

Hi! My name is Maggs and I would like to share the highs and lows of my discharge from hospital into 24hr support in the community. Before this, I spent ten years in various hospitals around the country. I think I should start from the beginning: I have been in a very low and difficult place for a long time. In 2010 I was in a place I didn’t think I could escape. My family could also see the darkness of that place in my eyes. Ten years on I can now finally accept how mentally and physically poorly I was.

Over the last ten years I have spent time in prison (for my own safety and to give the courts time to be able to apply a 37 hospital order). Once I had that order, I went to my first hospital not expecting that I would be going into a further three hospitals after that.

After being in the hospital, I gained a lot of confidence and accepted the person I used to be.

I was discharged from hospital into the community within a 24hr support housing service. This was alongside another lady who had been in the same hospital as me, so it was good to know someone who lived there too. There were also ten men who lived at the house; however this didn’t affect me even though I have a bad history with men. To be fair they were a good laugh! Eventually my friend moved in to her own flat with support from staff. It was sad to see her go but I was also so happy for her as she had worked hard to get her own flat.

I found it hard after she left, because all I was listening to were ten men bantering, swearing and being inappropriate with what they were saying and the manner they were saying it in. But now when I look back on this I know we all were struggling with mental health problems and everyone deals with these issues in so many different ways.

I know it wasn’t down to the individuals in the house that I had relapsed again, it was because I had put high expectations on myself to mend people who were struggling too.

At this point, I didn’t feel as confident as I had when I left hospital but that was because I wanted to fulfil my dreams of helping others who have been in the same position as me. I thought that if I could help anyone who is struggling with their mental health in any way shape or form, I would be fulfilled. While all this was going on, I had family back home who had been in a bad place too due to watching their own mum try to take her own life so many times. I loved them so so much but I knew that I was in the way of them following their dreams too. So, as I said at the beginning, I was admitted to a further three hospitals over the next five years.

I was at my last hospital for nearly two years and during this stay I developed many skills. These skills were then tested to their limits because I wanted to be a mum, a grandma and be with my family more than I had been. I questioned what would help me find the true Maggs underneath all the heartbreak over the years, and how I would make sense of the last ten years. I really valued the skills I learned during DBT, and I still use them to this day.

So, moving into the community was exciting, happy, scary and emotional for me. I was moving back home to my family, and I was excited as I was able to be a mum again and felt so lucky to be a grandma to seven gorgeous grandchildren. I wasn’t the only person who was emotional about moving into the community, my family were too. They had been waiting for this day for a long time.

Due to Covid-19 I was unable to see the property I was moving to. Two of the staff visited before lockdown to assess me for the accommodation and I was accepted. When I realised I wouldn’t be able to see where I was moving to, I judged the staff that came to visit me who were really lovely and approachable. I felt that I would be okay just to move in. I think my thoughts were to push myself that bit further because I knew I was so far away from the Maggs I was in 2010.

I had also met my care coordinator Kevin and my social worker Lydia. They were both so lovely and approachable too, I knew this was something big and such a positive and an amazing move waiting for me to grab with both hands.

World Mental Health Day – Kelechi’s story

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma. This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Kelechi Chioba, a person supported by Richmond Fellowship, tells us her story about battling mental ill health as a Black, LGBTIQA+, disabled woman who is also a survivor of domestic abuse.

I had a mental health disorder and polio when I was younger which means I have to use a wheelchair. Before my relapse I was a very active public speaker and activist. I travelled the country giving talks, training and meetings at universities. As a bi-sexual Black woman I spoke about a range of subjects including domestic abuse, LGBTQ+ identity, having a disability and feminism. I wanted to make a change as a domestic abuse survivor. I also talk about encouraging diversity in leadership.

It was after my hysterectomy that I broke down again. I felt down and hated giving talks, writing and my life. I used to love this.

In the Black community they have a myth – “Mental health is the white man’s disease”. There is no halfway. If you have mental health issues you must be mad. As a Black woman there is an expectation to be strong. You cannot be seen as weak and must keep your dignity. You may be dying inside but you can’t show it. In my church people would not sit next to me because of sexuality. When I experience racism in the UK I just want to run to the protection of the Black community but I am rejected because of my sexuality. I have no one to lean on. I am stuck in the middle of two worlds. This had a huge impact on my mental health. A mixture of culture, religion and beliefs all impacts me. Once, when I was sectioned and receiving treatment, a Black mental health nurse said “why are you here? If you are a believer in Christ you should not be here.” It is also hard to access support.

Sometimes you go to see an expert and there is no one from your community you can see who would understand your situation. You can’t just walk in and expect to be believed. It is a double punishment.

Eventually, I saw a psychiatrist who referred me to counselling. When I refused counselling, the doctor gave me Richmond Fellowship’s number. When I first started sessions with my recovery worker we made a checklist. We ticked off how I felt so I could visualize where I was mentally. We spoke every week. Before I relapsed, I was confident speaking to groups. Now I was scared of seeing people. So we focused on anxiety management and building confidence. Once I called my recovery worker and said I had trouble sleeping so we focused on sleep management. I was always listened to and could make decisions myself. We tailored the sessions to what I had experienced that week. This is something I really liked.

I didn’t feel seeing my recovery worker was working at first. I now realise it was having an impact within me. I started to find my passion again. It did not come all at once. It came little by little. I remember telling my recovery worker I am ready to give talks again. Everyone was so happy for me and so was I.

I came to Richmond Fellowship to get my passion back. I wanted to put my life back together and pick myself up. When I first came I said “I just want to get better. I want to know how to get a grip with managing my mental health”.

I now want to make a change. My life is hard. I am in a wheelchair and the discrimination and stereotypes are too much. I want to fix this world and encourage inclusivity in the community, government and in legislation. I want everyone to be equal and then I will be happy. This is why I go to give talks. I want to tell others to be proud of who and what you are. This is key for your mental health and you should always seek help if you need.

If you want to find out more about Kelechi and her recovery journey, please search her name on YouTube.

Motherhood and Bipolar – Jodi’s story

Jodi is a mother to Molly and has bipolar and PTSD. She first came to using our crisis house after a break down in her relationship left her in need of support.

Following her time in the crisis house she has gone on to have her baby girl and has risen to the challenges of mother hood. In her new blog she tells her story: Read more

Bike scheme supports people with mental health problems in Derby

DIGITAL CAMERA

A mental health recovery house in Derby has teamed up with two local bike companies to set up a free cycle scheme to promote healthy living.

Residents at Trevayler, a medium term recovery service run by Richmond Fellowship, part of Recovery Focus, the national group of mental health and substance misuse charities, have swapped four wheels for two in an effort to promote healthy living. Read more

Southend mental health worker celebrates 15 years

Chris Musson South EndA mental health worker from Southend has celebrated 15 years of supporting people living with mental health problems.

Chris Musson, 51 from Southend, celebrated 15 years of working for Richmond Fellowship, part of Recovery Focus, the national group of mental health and substance misuse charities, at a surprise party held by colleagues and residents at the charities’ supported housing service in Southend.

Read more

Cyclists on 300 mile recovery ride

Aquarius logoService users from our partner organisation Aquarius are set to undertake a 300 – mile charity bike ride to raise awareness of substance misuse and recovery.

The sponsored ride will be ridden by ten people who’re in recovery and will raise money to further the work of Aquarius and other organisations in the Midlands to promote recovery from addiction.

The ‘Tour De Recovery’ will set off from Leamington Spa on the 7th of September and arrive 5 days and 300 grueling miles later in Durham on the 12th of September.

Read more