The Prime Minister visited our Wellbeing Centre on Monday 9 January to talk about her vision for a 'shared society' and improved mental health provision.
This followed her earlier speech about the need to improve mental health nationally.
People who access the services in Aldershot had the opportunity to speak to Theresa May and find out more about the Government's plans.
"The Prime Minister seemed very interested in what we are trying to achieve here at the Wellbeing Centre and with the Safe Haven. She was also impressed to hear about our successful partnership working with other organisations."
Ruth Webster, Wellbeing Centre Manager.
The Wellbeing Centre and Safe Haven works in partnership with so many organisations, namely Hampshire County Council, Surrey and Borders
Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG, Citizens Advice, Sanctuary Supported Living and Catalyst. Each organisation provides their expertise to support people with their mental wellbeing.
During her speech yesterday, The Prime Minister announced the package of reforms to improve mental health support at every stage of a person’s life throughout society - including schools, workplaces and communities.
Mrs May said: “For too long mental illness has been something of a hidden injustice in our country, shrouded in a completely unacceptable stigma and dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health. Yet left unaddressed, it destroys lives, it separates people from each other and deepens the divisions within our society. Changing this goes right to the heart of our humanity; to the heart of the kind of country we are, the attitudes we hold and the values we share.
“I want us to employ the power of government as a force for good to transform the way we deal with mental health problems right across society, and at every stage of life.”
Kirsty Wray has been coming to mcch’s Wellbeing Centre since it opened and spoke to the Prime Minister about her experiences:
“I needed a service that would treat me as a person, with dignity and respect, and not just about my diagnosis. I’ve certainly found that here and that’s something the Prime Minister felt was so important. I’m still in a whirlwind about the visit and that I got to tell her my story. I am extremely proud that both the Wellbeing Centre and Safe Haven out of hours crisis service are getting the recognition that they deserve. The services are truly a lifeline for me.”
Part of the measures to improve mental health support include funding to find alternatives to hospital to support people in the community. The Prime Minister recognised that seeing a GP or going to A&E may not always be the right intervention for many people with mental ill-health. The government has pledged to build on its £15m investment to provide and promote new models of community-based care such as crisis cafes and community clinics. The initial £15m investment led to 88 new places of safety being created and the government now plans to spend up to a further £15m to build on this success.
The Safe Haven at the Wellbeing Centre in Aldershot, is one such crisis café which has gone from strength to strength since it opened on March 31, 2014. The service, which provides out-of-hours support to people experiencing, or are on the verge of, mental health crisis, allows individuals to drop in without an appointment. The service was developed in line with what people told us they wanted and needed and they have been involved in its design and development. They can chat with other people in a similar situation to their own, to sit by themselves if they wish, in the knowledge that they are supported, or they can talk to the qualified mental health professionals staffing the service. The service was developed in line with the express wishes of mental health service users and they have been involved in its design and development.
The relaxed, informal and supportive nature of the service, backed up by a strong clinical support framework, has proved immeasurably valuable for many of the more vulnerable and troubled members of our communities. Since the Aldershot Safe Haven opened in 2014, the numbers of people using Accident and Emergency at the local acute hospital suffering a mental health crisis has remained the same – a direct contrast to the increasing demand experienced nationally. Many people have said they attended the Safe Haven as an alternative to visiting A&E while acute mental health admissions from the service’s catchment area fell by a third in the first three months after opening, helping people to receive the support they need as close to their home as possible.
Funded by NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group and Hampshire County Council, the Aldershot Safe Haven (adults) is delivered by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, mcch and Catalyst - charities providing wellbeing support in Surrey and Hampshire.