Learn Wellbeing

Moving the dial on mental health and wellbeing

Many millions of people experience mental illness which can hold people back from fulfilling their potential and living a full and purposeful life. Mental illness can change people’s life trajectories in an instant; it harms relationships, and derails education and careers – and the majority of people it affects will experience a mental health crisis at some point.

In planning to transform crisis and acute mental health services, Hampshire and Isle of Wight’s (HIoW) Integrated Care Board identified the need for more community support for people going through early stages of mental health crisis. To overcome some challenges in accessing specialist support in the area, HIoW Integrated Care Board and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, partnered with Sanctuary Supported Living to provide alternative support with an outcomes framework intended to reflect local needs and aspirations for people who are mentally vulnerable. Not only that, together, they were also keen to reimagine what mental health support services looked like with an emphasis on trauma-informed approaches and holistic development.

So, HIoW Integrated Care Board committed to fund an innovative project in the shape of The Lookout – a pioneering respite and recovery support centre for people who may otherwise be admitted to hospital. Coupled with elements of best practise underpinning successful crisis houses in other parts of the country, and a wealth of experience and expertise in supported housing, violence prevention and the criminal justice system, Sanctuary Supported Living redeveloped one of their buildings to deliver a game-changing model of mental health support.

In a dynamic leap away from conventional support models, residents of The Lookout benefit from its therapeutic environment, whilst the NHS can plan the most efficient use of the inpatient provision. The first-of-its-kind service in Hampshire partially owes its success to strong partnerships across Winchester. Usually, secondary care mental health services tend to remain separate from mental health support offered by the voluntary sector, but in this case, traditional boundaries have been blurred to cement a truly collaborative working relationship.

The model considers the emotional and psychological needs of each person and delivers holistic support and interventions in a safe space. Consequently, this has instilled confidence in the system that non-medical interventions and support are as effective in mental health as standard medical models. It’s also highlighted the value and skills of the voluntary sector in delivering mental health services and saving money. Its work with NHS crisis teams has now extended to mental health divisions across the whole of Hampshire and all those who are interested in teaming up on first-class care for people with mental health needs.

For example, the Director of a local gardening business commissioned a sensory garden at The Lookout as he resonated with the service for his own mental health struggles. Since being in nature is well-recognised to improve mental health, residents were encouraged to choose their own flowers to inspire them to tap into the principles of mindfulness. Other person-centred approaches are designed via the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team’s assessment and safety plans as residents are supported by Sanctuary Supported Living staff to set specific goals and are encouraged to become experts in their own care.

As testament to the success of this innovative model of care and support, one resident said: “From the moment I arrived, I knew I was in a safe place. This was achieved with seemingly little effort from staff, and the positive and healing environment. I’m so grateful that The Lookout exists.”

Crucially, since 2021 the new service has supported 319 individuals, with successful outcomes, avoiding mental health relapse and hospitalisation.

Kirsty

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