Transforming mental health services on the island
18 September 2019

Dealing with mental health challenges can be a very personal thing to tackle however it always helps to have support from those who have lived through a similar experience.

A new mental health service provider on the Isle of Wight is able to offer a team of staff and volunteers, who not only have professional training to support people, but crucially also have real experience of what it’s like to tackle this and navigate through the health and care system.

The NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), working with Isle of Wight NHS Trust have commissioned Isorropia Foundation to provide the new Community Mental Health Wellbeing Service (CMHWS).

At the moment the team is working with people who are accessing the Trust’s Community Mental Health Service, supporting them to move on in their recovery from mental illness in a community setting with support to live well and independently.

So far the service has seen around 375 people, with more referrals coming in.

Jaime Williams, who has moved over from the Trust’s service to Isorropia, explains the life-changing benefits he has gained.

He said: “The encouragement and support provided has really helped me move forwards with my life and start making the changes I need to live the life I want. 

“I feel like I have a place to look forward to going to during the week and I am learning so much about some of my issues and the ways to tackle them. 

“The professional yet personally relatable staff members are a huge asset. Their attitude, demeanour and professionalism go a long way in providing a safe environment that allows members to tackle their issues and make improvements in their lives.

“I always feel supported and safe, even during the challenging moments that come with making progress towards a better life and better wellbeing.”

The CMHWS offers wellbeing workshops, which are a range of psycho-education sessions that empower people to take positive steps with their mental health recovery.

There are a wide range of sessions covering topics like anxiety management, understanding depression, regulating your mood and food and nutrition.

The service also offer wellbeing recovery planning sessions that help people to identify those areas in their life they need support with and taking small steps to reach their goals.

Ami Cripps, wellbeing centre manager, said: “My experience of going through the mental health system is paramount to the way I am able to support our members.

“My lived experience has given me insight that is impossible to understand unless you have been there yourself.

“Sometimes when people access our service they can be extremely anxious and it can often be helpful to know you are talking to someone who can really empathise and understand you.

“A key quality of the team is we are able to inspire new hope and possibilities to our members.

“Growth and change is possible and life doesn’t have to be defined by your mental health - people are so much more than an illness.

“After attending the more intensive workshops and wellbeing classes, we are still here to support our members as they transition into the community umbrella of Isorropia.”

This service is in 7 High Street, Newport, along with the Isle of Wight Safe Haven, and bringing them both into the same location is all part of the first steps to transform mental health services on the island.

Alison Smith, managing director of the CCG, said: “We spoke to a lot of people last year, who gave invaluable insight into mental health services, and we know there needs to be major changes in how the services are being provided and delivered.

“Good mental health and wellbeing is central to living a healthy, productive and enjoyable life, and this is what we want for the island’s population.

“The Mental Health Blueprint includes ambitious plans to make these changes happen - but it won’t all happen overnight.

“There is a lot to do and this is an important first step to start us on our transformation journey to provide the best service and support for island residents.”

Lesley Stevens, director of mental health and learning disabilities for the Trust, said: “We want to support people with mental health problems to take control of their own lives, and to build meaning and hope.

“Organisations across the island are working together to deliver this vision, with a focus on strengthening our community-based mental health services that can help people who need different levels of support – this could be activities, education, therapies and advice and support.

“This means that those people who do need a higher intensity of mental health support are able to be seen more quickly and effectively. This is an exciting step into a wider programme of improvement.”

The long term vision is that the CMHWS will become a self-referral service.

Keep up to date with the latest news

Find out what is happening in our services here.

Tell Us Your Views

Click here to find out how you can feedback to us about your experiences, along with how to raise any concerns, complaints or questions.