Primary and community mental health services to be improved with £1m investment

14 May 2021

£1million will be invested in to primary and community mental health services in Sheffield over the next three years.The national charity, Rethink Mental Illness, has selected Sheffield to be one of four national sites in England to develop new models of delivering mental health care with voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs).

The funding will be invested into the Primary and Community Mental Health Transformation Programme over the next 3 years by Rethink Mental Illness, supported by the Charities Aid Foundation and the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The Primary and Community Mental Health Transformation Programme was tested in 4 areas of Sheffield last year and has already delivered improvements in how people access mental health support for serious mental illnesses such as; psychosis, bipolar disorder, long term depression, complex mental health need related to trauma, characteristics of personality disorder diagnosis and eating disorders.

The programme has developed a primary care and community-based support which offers improved access to psychological therapies, improved physical health care, personalised and trauma-informed care and medicine management for patients with serious mental illness. The programme is delivered in partnership between Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Trust, Primary Care Sheffield, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

With this further funding, plans are now being made to make the support more widely available across Sheffield over the next 12 months.

The service is delivered by a multidisciplinary team of clinical psychologists and psychosocial practitioners, occupational therapists, mental health pharmacists, cognitive behavioural therapy therapists, primary care mental health practitioners, community connectors and health coaches, as well as voluntary sector support and activities.

The partnership with Rethink Mental Illness will support Sheffield with plans to make additional funding for severe mental illness to be made available for VCSE organisations of all sizes across Sheffield. VCSE organisations across the city have a wide range of skills, abilities and support diverse communities.  The new funding will support VCSE providers to develop alliances which will enable them to reach a wider group of people.

Will Higham, Associate Director of Programme Innovation at Rethink Mental Illness, said:

“We’re delighted to be involved in the transformation of community mental health care services in Sheffield. Working in alliance, we’ll make it easier for people to access support when they need it, providing support with the aspects of life which can have such a powerful influence over our mental health, such as employment, housing, and our physical health. Crucially, we’ll work with people with lived experience of mental illness to understand how services can support and improve their quality of life. Working together with organisations across the city, we’ll break down barriers between different agencies and tailor care to better meet the needs of people living in Sheffield. These are ambitious plans, but this is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform community mental health services, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Dr Terry Hudsen, Chair of NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group and Co-Chair of Sheffield Health & Wellbeing Board, said:

“We are proud to have been selected by Rethink Mental Illness to be one of their national sites, recognising the initial progress we have made over the past 12 months with the Primary and Community Mental Health Transformation Programme.  The partnership will help all organisations across health and social care to explore new and innovative models for how we work with and help the development and sustainability of our VCSE partners.

As a local GP, I can see clearly the important role this project will have in supporting the wellbeing of Sheffield people in their local communities.  This work will start with a focus on mental health support and we have high hopes that it will herald new ways of working with voluntary, community and faith organisations, for many of our other areas of work, in the coming years.  This innovation also supports the Sheffield Heath & Wellbeing Board’s statement of intent of March 2021 of working to support the development and resilience of VCSE partners”

Helen Steers, Interim Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Sheffield said

“Sheffield has got a large and diverse voluntary, community and faith sector.  This is an innovative and welcome development that local organisations will benefit from. Voluntary organisations large and small demonstrated their agility and impact in supporting health and wellbeing during the pandemic. Sadly, many organisations in the city are now struggling to remain sustainable and this offer of expert support from Rethink Mental Illness and our partners in Sheffield will support us to develop a more sustainable and fairer voluntary and community sector to support an increasing demand for help in Sheffield”.  

Margaret Lewis, Chief Executive of Sheffield Mind said

“We welcome Rethink Mental Illness to the partnership in Sheffield. From our work with people with mental health issues we know that a person’s mental health is influenced by a variety of health, social and lifestyle factors beyond the treatment they received. In delivering these locally-based activities I am confident we will see a greater positive impact in people’s lives”. 

The Alliance will be proactively reaching out to VCSE organisations in Sheffield supporting people living with mental illness. But in interim relevant organisations are encouraged to email to register their interest and to find out more information.