Mental health service users who help others live life to the full will meet with Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb as he launches the next phase of a project to help local services focus more on 'recovery'.
The service users have all trained as peer support workers as part of a project which helps mental health services focus every aspect of their work on supporting people to recover.
The project, known as ImROC - Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change - aims to help mental health providers change the way they work with service users and families, making them partners in care. The objective is to go further than 'just' involvement, creating a culture of working together in partnership in every aspect of the organisation's work.
Mr Lamb, whose ministerial portfolio includes mental health policy and services, will meet the new peer support workers at the launch of the second phase of the ImROC project. They will tell him how recovery-oriented services can help people get the support they need to live their lives on their own terms.
Launching phase two of the project, Mr Lamb said:
"Recovery and recognising that people with even the most severe mental health problems can recover is a crucial part of modern mental health services, which is why it forms one of the six priorities of the government's mental health strategy.
"Through ImROC, mental health service providers are recognising that people with direct experience of mental ill health can offer just as valuable expertise as medics and clinicians. Combined, they can gently revolutionise mental health care in this country, and ensure people with mental health problems can live the lives they want to, with strong relationships, a sense of purpose and independence."
The first phase of ImROC, which was launched in 2011, involved 29 NHS and independent mental health organisations, including six 'demonstrator' sites which were already advanced in delivering recovery-focused services and six pilot sites, which received support, training and consultancy.
Launched on Thursday 14 February 2013, the second phase of the project is open to all mental health providers that want to become recovery-focused. It will continue to be run through a partnership between the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network (MHN) and Centre for Mental Health.
One of the central features of a recovery-focused organisation is establishing a local 'Recovery College' which offers courses on living with mental health problems designed jointly by people with lived experience of mental illness and mental health professionals. A recent survey of participants at the South West London Recovery College showed very high levels of satisfaction with the College and a significant reduction in the use of community mental health services. Similar results have been achieved in Nottingham and Central and Northwest London. Using educational approaches rather than just diagnosis and treatment, recovery-focused mental health services help people with mental illness make use of their own experiences and talents to build fulfilling lives for themselves, rather than trying to 'fix' them.
A second key element is the introduction of peer support workers into clinical teams, including inpatient wards and community settings. Preliminary data from these kinds of projects suggest that they are not only highly effective in terms of improving quality, but they can also result in significant cost savings.
Chief executive of the Mental Health Network Stephen Dalton said:
"Mental ill health affects a huge number of people, but the biggest challenge for many is the assumption that they can - or should - be 'treated'. Users of mental health services have told us that the best treatment is being able to maintain control over their lives and symptoms, and having the opportunity to build a life beyond their illness. Recovery-focused organisations make sure that every contact with service users contributes to this."
Sean Duggan, chief executive of Centre for Mental Health, added:
"The government’s mental health strategy No health without mental health, sets a clear objective, that 'more people with mental health problems will recover'. ImROC can support organisations to reshape their services to give more people the chance to recover and to fulfil their potential. With professionals ‘on tap’ not ‘on top’, and hope, control and opportunity as the core principles of mental health services, we can achieve lasting change in people’s lives and life chances."
IMROC programme director Geoff Shepherd said:
"The concept of recovery is really coming into its own now. This second phase of ImROC will see expertise developed by the early adopters shared between organisations, which can benefit from the successes as well as the lessons learned. Although we are still at a relatively early stage, it's already clear that even with modest resources, recovery colleges and peer support workers can help deliver a really different kind of mental health service much more tailored to the needs and priorities of the people who use them."