The Whole Life approach to mental health recovery is a common sense approach that accepts that people with mental health problems are more than the sum of their symptoms.
Whole Life is a common sense approach which accepts that people with mental health problems are more than the sum of their symptoms. It started in mental health but local commitment has meant it is applied to everyone with whom we work. It acknowledges and encourages their hopes and aspirations. Just like everyone, they want to be well and valued. Whole Life in Cornwall has embedded a set of values and principles that support recovery and enable people to enjoy the full benefits of citizenship. It isn’t just about health – it’s about every aspect of life. We work with a range of local organisations and businesses to help people retain their social status, health, wellbeing and their place in the community.
Social inclusion is something which takes place everyday of our lives. Most of us take it for granted. For example, social inclusion happens when you go to work, take part in an activity or go to a concert. It can be something as simple as answering the telephone or going to the shop for a newspaper. It is about interaction with others. Imagine if you didn’t have a job, take part in activities or go to concerts and the only time you received a telephone call or a knock at your door was from a Psychiatric Nurse. It is very easy to see how people who have had prolonged contact with mental health services can become isolated from daily life.
We have Social Inclusion Workers who try to stop this happening. They identify the types of things people want to do. They will work with other organisations to create opportunities so this can happen. The Social Inclusion Workers want people to be independent and do things for themselves. Social Inclusion Workers can help people break tasks down into manageable chunks – so people feel confident to have a go themselves. The support each person needs varies.
One example of how we help people is through a partnership between the Eden Project, Cornwall College and Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. An open course is run at Eden. This gives people the opportunity to gain a qualification and work experience. Each course is limited to 10 people so is a good first step. Lots of people who have completed this course have gone onto mainstream courses or employment. Lots of them say that as a result they have increased confidence and self-esteem.
What we do is common sense. For people to progress and recover we need to address the things that affect their mental health and not just treat the symptoms. We help people identify what is most important to them. As a mental health provider we are not a housing expert or an employment adviser but through our networks, we have links and partners who can help us solve these problems for people.
Medicines can be an important part of a person’s recovery. Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust believes people – both patients and staff – need to have information which allows them to be confident that the mental health medication used by the Trust is safe, effective, offers the best outcomes and value for money.
It has four main elements are:
The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is applicable to all adults of working age in contact with mental health service.
We have published a series of books that have illuminated the area of mental health for many. These stories are a tribute to those who live with mental illness and to those who are carers, family, friends or health professionals.
The first book, Recovery Stories was published in October 2007 and looks at ‘recovery’. In our society, most people would expect this to mean that you are able to fit back into your life exactly where you left it and go back to full time work. Within the context of mental health, although this sometimes happens, it is not always the case. Recovery is much broader; it is about being in control and able to lead your life in a way that you find comfortable so that you stay as healthy as possible.
The second book, Employment Stories was published in August 2008 and specifically looks at the benefits employment and work can have on our health. Being employed is about being valued, having self-worth and self-esteem and we need to continue to explore all sorts of diverse ways so that people with mental health problems are employed fully and holistically, and given opportunities to continue in their journey of recovery.
The third book, Well-Being, Cornish Journeys of Hope was published in 2009 and is linked to the concept of ‘Whole Life’; where a person is just that; a whole person and wellbeing is enhanced when instead of treating the little bit of the person that might be ‘my’ speciality, we see and relate to the whole person.
The fourth book, Pathways – Journeys of Hope from Cornwall and the Scillies was published in July 2011 and continues the journey to recovery. This book incorporates stories from the Isles of Scilly as well as the rest of Cornwall.