Town Trust funds new mental health service for Stratford

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STRATFORD patients are to benefit from an innovative mental health service made possible through a £143,000 grant from the Stratford Town Trust.

The grant will be used to offer an additional service for the adult population, over and above statutory mental health provision in the area, with a view to potentially scaling the service across south Warwickshire in the future.

Active Monitoring, as it’s called, will be delivered by Springfield Mind, a mental health charity based in Stratford with over 30 years’ experience working with those living with low mental wellbeing and mental ill health across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Jo Min, Deputy Chief Executive of Springfield Mind, said: “The support we can give through Active Monitoring can be life changing for many individuals we work with. We have already had some very positive results elsewhere in England and Wales and are thrilled to have the funding to run a pilot scheme with all the GP practices in the Stratford-upon-Avon area.”

Active Monitoring is a needs-based, early intervention programme developed and co-designed by the national charity Mind and GPs to provide support to people in Stratford who visit their GP with symptoms of common mental health needs including stress, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

Patients will benefit from five face-to-face sessions of guided self-help with a trained Springfield Mind practitioner delivered from within their GP practice. The Stratford Town Trust grant will fund three Springfield Mind practitioners working across the four GP practices in Stratford for an initial period of 12 months, during which time the findings will be evaluated.

Rachel Jones with the Stratford Town Trust said: “We are delighted to be providing a grant to support the wellbeing of the people of Stratford. “We believe it will make a real difference to people’s lives and we will continue to be involved in the assessment of the Active Monitoring service over the 12-month period, working closely with our partners, NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Springfield Mind.”

National evidence shows that the service is helpful in improving mental health, with people being seen more quickly, avoiding the need to come back repeatedly to see their GP while waiting for an appointment.

“It has also given GPs an alternative treatment to try with their patients, often avoiding the need for future interventions.” Jessica, a mother of three from a nearby practice who has used the service, said: “I felt like I had been running on the treadmill for some time, lost my footing and fallen flat on my face. It was difficult on my children.

“I couldn’t be mum and do the jobs I needed to do at home. When the GP talked to me about waiting lists for alternative services I remember feeling really despondent. I do feel really fortunate that the Active Monitoring service was able to see me at a time when I needed the most help. The sessions were great, enabled me to get some control back and really made such a difference.”

Dr Ian Allwood, GP at Bridge House Medical Centre in Stratford and board member of NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The new Active Monitoring service has the potential to make a significant difference for patients with common mental health problems.

“Many people currently wait for mental health symptoms to pass or wait to access support services. Now people in Stratford-upon-Avon can get more timely support from Springfield Mind.

The service is local, quick to access and face-to-face. We will be able to assess the findings from this pilot in Stratford with a view to opening up the service to a wider cohort of patients in the future.”