Jane, Lorna and Selina from Falkirk and District Association for Mental Health discuss their experience of being funded.
FDAMH work with people and families experiencing the impact of mental illness.
The social prescribing service aims to promote recovery and self management through a short intervention, aimed at those experiencing reduced mental wellbeing. The service is accessed through participating GP practices, or directly.
FDAMH researched social prescribing before starting on their project. They identified a similar project in Dundee, visited them to find out more, established focus groups and gauged interest locally. They then used all the information they’d gathered to establish a short pilot project, which gave some strong evidence of need to apply for development funding.
“We were attracted by the recovery and self management focus we saw, and thought it could work well in our area.” Jane – FDAMH
FDAMH knew that GPs were becoming more restricted with time, and people living with anxiety and depression weren’t aware of the range of support available locally. FDAMH were able to offer another option. People appreciated the extra time and space that was available to talk, and GPs felt less frustrated with things ‘not working’ too.
“It was tough at first, GP practices we spoke to weren’t sure if it would work, but thankfully were willing to give it a go” Lorna – FDAMH
FDAMH based themselves in GP surgeries, which was easier for people to attend without feeling ‘stigmatised’ about attending a local mental health organisation. It also meant the team could see people more quickly, without people waiting to be referred to psychology services, sometimes unnecessarily. The short intervention work the team were able to do with people was sometimes enough to avoid some people’s some mental health becoming worse while they waited on a referral.
“It’s been a change of mind set for a lot of people, moving away from ‘fixing’ to enabling people to self manage and change things for themselves.” Selina – FDAMH
Although working in close partnership with NHS colleagues, FDAMH were able to see people as people, not boxed in by processes and priorities, or seeking to ‘fix’ people. The team were all professionals too, but working in a different way, and some practices took more time than others to see them as a valuable part of the team.
“The ALLIANCE funding allowed us to reach out and really work in partnership, extending our role into the community through GP practices.”
FDAMH have benefitted from being linked in with ALLIANCE networks and training, especially around evaluation. Being creative, including stories and case studies, has enabled FDAMH to demonstrate their impact to other funders and supporters beyond the usual numbers and stats they require.