Conference notes

Launch of the Mental Health Alliance South West

The launch of the Mental Health Alliance South West is timely as Mental Health is top of agendas at present….

3/4 priorities for SW NHS to look at:

  • Need a clear firm message to put to NHS England.
  • How do we want MHA to grow+ operate?
  • Engage all mental health people not present.
  • Access to MH treatment/ services

At present hard to get a MH issues diagnosed. Need to have it on parity with physical health issues.

Everyone has the potential to develop a mental illness.

It is still a stigma.

The Alliance is everybody

  • It is an attempt to reach people on the ground to become a “joint voice.”
  •  The aim is to have the voice “listened to.”
  • Provide common themes- facilitate a way- form an information structure.

The main functions are to:

  • Provide communication
  • Share up-to-date information across SW
  • Provide a regional forum for consultation +discussion
  • Give people an opportunity to share views
  • Take forward universal concerns

How do you join the Alliance? 

Sign up here on our website. Free of charge in South West. A newsletter is to go on website.

Who runs the Alliance?

A steering group set-up. Meet bimonthly. Share info monthly for all in SW. Need to increase staffing

What does the steering group do?

  • Operates set up to run smoothly
  • Listen + discuss what voices on the ground bring
  • Feed out information and views  into strategic clinical settings
  • Feed back to people
  • Seeks a “unified voice” to take forward
  • To make a difference; work together.

How will the Alliance make a difference?

  • By having consistent structures that work
  • By linking into other health networks/ show NHS relationships
  • For “us” to use in/for the SW
  • Health and wellbeing

Andy Bradley, Frameworks 4 Change

Questions asked of us-

“Create a sense of connected, compassionate, community”

A paradigm for how we see the world

“Compliance or compassion?”

This alliance needs the heart involved.    “A fear to love?”   “Care?”  “Community?”

Need a shift from providing services to communities-

“What services contribute to my good life?”  Scarcity to Abundance

What does Good look like?

Why are networks so important? We live in this era of finance /law etc

Collectively we make a difference.

GP’s see people every day; Everybody needs to deal with MH. Everybody has a MH aspect to their lives

We can get things done, we can make a difference, we are being listened to!

We need evidence: urban myths abound

  • Need some strong evidence to make changes
  • Strong basis in personalised care

Caroline Dollery,  Essex

  • Good progress : Dame Carol Black- leading to IAPT + beyond
  • Personal health+ Social care budgets (Cumbria/London/ Northampton)
  • Pioneer programmes integrated commissioning

Areas of development:

  • National initiatives going on
  • Commissioning Issues going on
  • Public in middle/at centre of this

National work:

  • –       Urgent MH care review ( at present)
  • –       MH outcomes framework
  • –       Leadership development
  • –       Recognition of parity of esteem
  • –       Political support
  • –       LT conditions and frailty models
  • Some will be mandated, some developed, some worked on.
  • NOW: MN issues being listened to at senior level . It is an unprecedented time.


  • –       MH intelligence network – on dashboard
  • –        Outcomes framework released
  • –       Pioneer programmes, integrated approaches
  • –       Development of personalised systems of care.

System enables – the lighthouse!

Strategic networks/AHSCN’s / CCG’s/ social care+ providers

  • Sharing good practice: eg depression /suicide prevention- (Detroit workshop initiative Ed Kofe)
  • CAMHS: defining what children/young people really need.
  • Removing barriers /removing waiting times/including them in designing services + developing resilience

Commissioning: new approaches

  • –       Years of care tariff
  • –       Pioneer programme
  • –       Developing relationships /voice of patients/families /carers
  • –       Importance of self care, self management
  • –       Importance of role of Health + Wellbeing boards


Lara Camona, Rethink

Alliance needs the “power of our voices,”

to stand together, speak out for the isolated and vulnerable, and to speak out for change.

                                    ACTION:             DO NOTHING, NO RESULTS!

Q: What does the Alliance have at their disposal for it to move forward?

  • –       Authenticity, clear goals, working with others.
  • –       Various ways : letter writing, consultation, influence national policy ( all SW region)
  • –       H+ Social Care Act/ Equality Bill/ MH discrimination
  • –       Creative  campaigning /MP’s fit for work task.
  • –       Petitions
  • –       MH’s high profile at moment…….. Positive change ( Asda man)
  • –       “ Move to Action” NHS England  website “What Good looks like” SW people can add stories etc
  • –       Properly joined up services to meet/suit our needs.
  • –       Work in partnership to move forwards.

Least Intervention First Time (LIFT)

  • !993 first wave LAPT site /opt in service stepped up care which isn’t triaged. LTC’s pathfinder site.
  • Seeing more + more people with LTC’s: ongoing LTC training + supervision to staff
  • Developing + tailoring psychological support to people with LTC’s (courses + 1:1)
  • Work holistically
  • Building /strengthening links with wider physical health colleagues.
  • Offer course opportunities to meet others in similar situations/ people less alone + feel normal
  • Colleagues appreciate having resources to signpost+ join up pathways.


Time to Change Campaign

  • All talked about inspiring, yet worrying MH issues+ recovery they have had themselves.
  • Programme run by MIND /Gov health £16 M/Comic Relief £4M:
  • Phase 2 is Oct ‘11-March ’15.
  • 3 levels National /Community/Individual action + empowerment.
  • Jan/Feb ’14 major national emphasis on “Time to Talk”

Carer’s stories

…….being isolated/ unsupported/not informed/ left to deal with very challenging MH behaviours/ saving the NHS lots of money.

NEW HOPE in Bath: giving people a voice + reducing stigma. KEEP SAFE< KEEP SANE I yr old carer’s group.

So…….ATTITUDES: working together is important

  • –       Shared aims, no them or us
  • –       Working together from the beginning
  • –       Parity of esteem
  • –       Time + perseverance
  • –       Recognition of strengths + different types of expertise
  • –       Respect + support of one another

Afternoon session in groups: Community Space

Each Question followed in italics by 2 key findings from group work (from many)

Q 1.  How can we strengthen the Alliance’s Voice?

  1. Alliance needs a clear vision
  2. Need to be clear about how people in SW can get involved.

Q2. Improving people’s experience; what would make a difference?

  1. People’s experiences are different in MH- move away from negative diagnosis to strengths and assets
  2. Allaince needs to be proactive with any MH issue and post a response on website on any issue in Media.

Q 3. What should be the Alliance’s priorities for 2014?

  1. Services need to be shaped to the users.
  2. Emphasis needs to be on prevention, use to bypass stigma.

Q 4. What can the Alliance do for you/What can you give the alliance?

  1. Sharing goods practice in SW
  2. Making systems easier to understand ‘community approach’ more accessible and easier to understand jargon

So if we post things on website + share things- this will steer points for future of Alliance.

Andy Bradley finished day with Self help skills: How can you care for yourself more deeply and unconditionally, before Alliance co-chairs rounded day off with thanks.

2 thoughts on “Conference notes

  1. Des Robertson

    I very much enjoyed the recently held conference but as someone who has worked in mental health advocacy for a number of years I was surprised just how little it was mentioned during the day.

    The value of advocacy cannot be underestimated in supporting people who are very disempowered to have a voice but its value goes beyond this in some subtle yet potent ways.

    It was 22 years ago that the UK government of the day gave the order to begin ‘turning the NHS tanker’ with the introduction of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990. Here we saw the introduction of the concept of the Care Programme Approach in helping people with health and social care needs and at its centre the notion of working in partnership with service users to assess and meet needs. The first embers of a person-centred approach were flickering into life.
    Fast forward to Aug 2012, an advocate sitting with a lady, an inpatient, on an Older Persons Psychiatric Ward detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (amended 2007).One of the most potent and disempowering pieces of legislation, limiting a person’s individual rights and choices. The advocate was struck by the sense of hopelessness described by this lady and her sense of ‘being kept as a prisoner’. He had seen it many times before, the ward felt like a place of detention for her, not a place of sanctuary. After obtaining consent from her the advocate was able to frame a question to staff on the ward which was simply, ‘What can be done to help this lady feel less like a prisoner?’ This question then lead to a discussion resulting simply in creating the opportunity for her to spend time outside in the garden and to be able to go out for a walk escorted.
    It is because of its simplicity that I use this example as it demonstrates perfectly the subtle potency of the advocacy role. This is not an example of a badly run ward where systemic neglect is routinely observed. However what it exemplifies is the low level neglect or disregard that can manifest as a result of an institutional malaise. The introduction of an independent, external perspective is enough to bring into visibility that which is unobserved or unrecognised. Take this up to a different level, to one where systemic abuse and neglect are present and unchecked, a recent example of this being Winterbourne View in South Gloucestershire. Certainly it may not be possible to identify a singular causal factor but we know from many historical examples that people can become desensitised to some abominable practice when it becomes an institutionalised culture. We have our watchdogs such as the Care Quality Commission but as we have seen these do not necessarily have the capacity to be a checking influence on the development of bad practice or worse. The presence of independent advocates not only protects the individual’s rights but can also have a wider impact on practice within a ward, unit or service.
    These organisations are huge systems within which change can happen very slowly or not at all unless something external intervenes. Advocacy can be akin to a catalyst that positively upsets the institutional inertia or malaise that can become endemic within these large organisations. Effective Care Plans entail professionals, agencies and service users working in concert to reach an agreed goal. Advocacy can help to ‘grease the wheels’ of this process resulting in less frustration and less cost! It is time that the value of advocacy was fully recognised in policy and in commissioning, not just as a safeguard for vulnerable adults and young people but for its economic value in the role that it plays enhancing effective engagement between services and service users.nn1

    1. Rob Gough Post author

      Hi Des

      Thanks for your post about what is a very important area of mental health. We do need to be looking at it, and I will put Advocacy, and your post, on the agenda for our next meeting.

      Kind regards



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