NHS England/Improvement will be investing £2m additional funding over the next three years in community mental health services, for people with serious mental illnesses in Northumberland.
It aims to support a more ‘joined up’ mental health service across a range of organisations, including hospitals, community organisations, GP practices and charity and voluntary organisations.
People with serious mental health difficulties needing to access the services and support will receive a more holistic and tailored approach, depending on their needs.
Kate O’Brien, Senior Head of Commissioning, child health, learning disabilities and mental health, for NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is such a welcome and needed programme of work and I am extremely proud to be involved in it. We know it is going to improve the support and care for those that need mental health care across Northumberland. And after the last year and a half, this has never been more important. People have been through a very difficult period and I’m sure many are dealing with some very tough personal challenges and circumstances.
“Working in partnership across the wide range of organisations that provide mental health care and support is absolutely crucial to improve access and for this transformation to be a success, and I know all involved are committed to improving the mental well-being of those that live in Northumberland. The integrated working across organisations will ensure that there is ‘no wrong door’ to access services and individuals should only need to tell their story once.”
The funding will enable Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS FT to employ mental health practitioners to work in a collaboration with Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT’s six Primary Care Networks. This is expected to ensure that mental health support and interventions are more accessible closer to home.
Other benefits include developing the community adult eating disorder service across Northumberland. It will mean that there will be opportunities for early detection, allowing care to be given at an earlier stage, and therefore improving patient outcomes.
Some of the patients expected to benefit from the services and support, include those who may have suffered trauma. Staff will work closely with their GPs and other healthcare partners to provide greater emotional support.
There will be more work carried out to prevent hospital admissions and the escalation of symptoms. This will be done through enhancing the crisis pathways with staff who understand the social aspects of poor mental health, such as fuel poverty, loneliness, and lack of employment.
John Lawlor, Chief Executive at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS FT, said: “We are extremely proud to be part of this vital work, which will have a significant impact on the care the people in Northumberland receive. There is no doubt we have all gone through a difficult period, and our need to provide appropriate and effective services for those who need them is more important than ever. Working in partnership with other organisations will ensure we have a joined-up approach, with a shared aim of improving the access and support for people with serious mental illness.”
Northumberland Recovery College is also a part of this project, which launched in May 2021. It hopes to help adults living in Northumberland, who would like to improve their mental health and well-being. It is not a physical building, but instead provides learning experiences, mutual support, and activities in local communities to improve well-being. The activities are usually led by people with lived mental health experiences.
Julia Perry, Head of Community and Well-being Services, at Mental Health Concern, said: “This is a really exciting programme that will make it easier for local people to find the mental health support they need. After the incredible challenges of the last 18 months, this investment could not have come at a better time. Our team at Mental Health Concern is proud to be involved and to lead the Northumberland Recovery College, which puts well-being support at the heart of communities across Northumberland.”
Sonia McGough, Director of Quality and Operations at Mental Health Matters, added: “As a third sector provider, we believe that through working in partnership we can deliver highly effective services that address specific local needs. We are excited to be a part of this collaborative transformation work and to use our experience from supporting the community over the last six years to make a positive difference to the lives of people in Northumberland who are experiencing mental illness.”
The organisations involved in this programme include Northumberland County Council; Northumberland NHS Commissioning Group; Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT; Primary Care Networks across Northumberland; Healthwatch Northumberland; Mental Health Matters; Mental Health Concern; Carers Northumberland; and the voluntary sector and service users themselves.