Improving mental health care in Sierra Leone

Although we’ve been quiet on the blog, the Connecting People Intervention project in Sierra Leone has been evolving over the past several months.

Since Meredith’s visit to Sierra Leone in July, we have been working on developing a model of practice rooted in the CPI and training programme for community-based nurses. The project considers how social interventions, developed in partnership with community members involved in mental health care, might increase the chance of recovery.

Meredith and Martin are now making plans to visit in May to meet with stakeholders in the Ministry of Health & Education, the Mental Health Coalition, the Ethics and Scientific Review Committee, and leaders at the University of Makeni. The purpose of this visit will be two-fold; firstly to continue developing our partnerships and ensure the projects meets equally defined needs, secondly to facilitate creative sessions to develop the culturally-relevant training programme. We will then return to Sierra Leone to pilot the training programme with community-based nurses and involving local research students.

This video was produced by The Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2), based at the University of York. C2D2 is supported by a Wellcome Trust ‘Institutional Strategic Support Fund’ award, and funded the first phase of the Sierra Leone project, the feasibility study. The next stage of the project, including the development of a model of practice and the nurse training programme, is funded by the Maudsley Charity.

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Issue 4 Connecting People Newsletter

Here is issue 4 of the Connecting People newsletter. In this issue we have updates from the team as well as news about the International Issue 4Centre for Mental Health Social Research (ICMHSR). We also take a closer look at one of the agencies involved in the study, n-compass.

Please let us know what you think of the newsletter. Also, if you have ideas for things you want to see in Issue 5 please get in touch.

Many thanks

The Connecting People Study Team

Issue 3 Connecting People Newsletter

Here is issue 3 of the Connecting People newsletter. In this issue we have updates from the team as well as news of the development of a new training package encompassing video footage of the Connecting People Intervention in action. We also take a closer look at one of the agencies involved in the study.

Issue 3 Connecting People NewsletterPlease let us know what you think of the newsletter. Also, if you have ideas for things you want to see in Issue 4 please get in touch.

Many thanks

The Connecting People Study Team

Issue 2 Connecting People Newsletter

Here is Issue 2 of the Connecting People Newsletter. In this issue we are looking at the Connecting People Intervention in Practice, recruitment to the study and the process of interviewing participants.

Issue 2Please let us know what you think of the newsletter. Also, if you have ideas for things you want to see in Issue 3 please get in touch.

Many thanks

The Connecting People Study Team

Issue 1 – Connecting People Newsletter

An early Christmas present from the Connecting People Team to you…

Here is Issue 1 of the Connecting People Newsletter. This another way in which the Connecting People team will keep people updated on the work we are doing. It is hoped that this will help the team reach out to even more people and promote further interest in our work.

NewsletterPlease let us know what you think of the newsletter. Issue 2 will be produced in Spring 2013. If you have ideas for things you want to see in this get in touch.

The ClearFear Game: Using fun to tackle social anxiety

Connecting with other people is one of the ‘five ways to well-being’. Many people with mental health problems have small social networks and experience difficulties in making positive social connections. This is the main reason why we are exploring in the Connecting People study how health and social care workers can most effectively help people with mental health problems to connect with others.

One of our findings so far is that many people encounter difficulties in making the first step to connect with others because of a fear of social situations, or social anxiety. Of course, many people like me are shy or introverted. I am not ashamed to admit that I prefer solitary pursuits like blogging to parties, but at least I have a choice. If I would like to engage with other people in social situations, I can. I don’t fear being scrutinized by other people. I don’t worry for days about finding the right words to say to people. I don’t actively avoid social situations or suffer panic attacks when I’m in them. But many people do. Many people unreasonably expect others to be evaluating them negatively. Many avoid social situations or find them intolerably stressful. Many people suffer from social anxiety in various degrees of severity.

An American study found that 5% of the general population experience social anxiety disorder (at the severe end of the social anxiety spectrum) at some point in their lives. Although cognitive behavioural therapy can help, over 80% don’t receive any help. For many, it simply goes undetected. For others, the stigma of asking for help prevents them from doing so. However, we believe that it needs to be openly tackled to enable people to make social connections which can help them to get on with their lives. And we aim to do this using fun.

The Connecting People study team are teaming up with Kingston Recovery Initiative Social Enterprise (RISE) and Playmakers Industries to create the ClearFear Game. Last week, the RSA Catalyst fund – which provides small grants to RSA Fellows to develop innovative solutions to solve social problems – announced an award of £2,000 to help us to design and pilot the game.

The ClearFear Game will be a non-virtual game which will immerse people in social interactions which they would be otherwise fearful to engage in. Using the principle of ‘flow’ from positive psychology and gaming theory, the game will use fun as the active mechanism in relieving fearful situations.

The ClearFear Game will be developed by the Connecting People study team, members of Kingston RISE, Playmakers Industries, RSA Fellows and other experts during a ‘game camp’ on 6th-7th March in London. I’m not really sure what this involves, but judging by the YouTube videos, it looks like a lot of fun! We are actively involving people who experience, or have experienced, social anxiety during these two days to ensure that the game will be playable and fit for purpose.

Once it is designed, we will invite colleagues in Kingston RISE to pilot the ClearFear Game with people experiencing social anxiety to see if it helps at all. We will evaluate their progress before recommending it is used more widely. If the findings of the pilot are promising, we will aim to conduct further experimental evaluations of the outcomes of playing the game.

The development of the ClearFear Game and the results of the evaluation will be published online. The game itself will be made available using a Creative Commons licence. I’ll keep you updated on our progress on this blog and on the Connecting People study website. In the meantime, have fun!

SCIE: The mental health and wellbeing of elders in black and minority ethnic communities: working together for mental wellbeing

This brief video, produced by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), highlights the experiences of elders in the Chinese community in Barnet when accessing services.  It portrays how the Chinese Mental Health Association (CMHA) has been able to develop a pilot programme to facilitate access to services, such as a culturally-appropriate befriending scheme, print materials regarding direct payments, and access to Chinese and western doctors.  The CMHA was able to develop this programme by bidding for funding from the local authority’s Innovation Fund.  Click on the link to learn more!

http://www.scie.org.uk/socialcaretv/video-player.asp?guid=9d7257a0-42c8-4e74-bf31-014b9ecce735&dm_i=4O5,GJVZ,38Q225,1CJ8C,1