There are no great surprises to those working in the sector, that as cut backs hit elsewhere, the level of need, and the complexity of issues experienced by clients arriving at services continues to increase. I have been struck by the variety of responses from providers, commissioners and service users as to how to respond to this ever challenging agenda – and to share a few examples of this.
Firstly, a brief reflection on the recent increased interest in an approach to provision looking at the Psychologically Informed Environment. I recognise this approach is not brand new. Guidance issued in May 2010 DCLG and National Mental Health Development Unit giving a detailed overview of this approach, and including some excellent case study examples about how organisations were taking this forward. The fundamental premise for a PIE is that it is run in a way which centres on the emotional and psychological needs of the service users. I was reviewing this guidance again and was struck by the way in which organisations continue to innovate and challenge provision – but how – critically – this approach was seeking new ways of working with those who might otherwise be unable to engage to change.
The second response is epitomised by an event I am attending in May – The launch of the new Southampton Service User Network. The network has been set up to support current, former and potential service users of mental health services. The network not only offers support and information to those experiencing mental illness or distress – but also acts to inform the strategic and policy direction of the locality. This seems like exactly the right moment to be launching this kind of network, when commissioners new and old need to understand and hear, in an incredibly tight commissioning environment, exactly what works for individuals and how groups and individuals will need support going forward. Sitra staff have been supporting this network in its development, and I am really pleased to be part of this celebration.
Finally I wanted to flag up Sitra’s contribution to equipping the sector to support those with high needs. For the first time, we will be running a new course Different Worlds: Hallucinations and Delusions. We are working again with the acclaimed Dr Ian Bourne – and the courses will look at strategies and approaches to supporting those in crisis, and experiencing delusions, hallucinations and paranoia.
It is critical as a sector that we continue to innovate and respond to high need, but recognise that those experiencing the need are a fundamental part of the solution, and that commissioners and providers will best serve need by making the service user voice central to future direction. That surely is how we maximise the reward for all.