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Together reveals benefits of personalised mental health support in accommodation settings

Posted on 17, May 2016

The wellbeing and lifestyles of people with severe mental health issues improve when they receive personalised support in an accommodation setting, a new report we published today has revealed.

Two people chatting whilst receiving personalised mental health supportFunded by the Department of Health, the three-year independent evaluation by the Mental Health Foundation aimed to understand the impact of our personalised accommodation based model, known as Progression Together.

A Progression Together service supports people with severe mental health issues to move towards living independently in their community, at a pace that’s right for them. The services offer people choice and control over how they are supported, working alongside each individual towards their own goals.

The evaluation found that after receiving support from a Progression Together service:

  • Participants’ wellbeing went from below average for the general population, to above it. This represented a statistically significant improvement in wellbeing over the course of the evaluation.
  • Around half of the people moved on to more independent living or less supported accommodation. All participants reported that they had developed new skills that had prepared them to live independently.
  • Participants became more engaged in health promoting lifestyle activities, such as taking part in exercise, eating healthier foods, managing their stress levels and maintaining better relationships with health professionals.
  • Engagement in education and/or training increased significantly.

On the basis of their findings, The Mental Health Foundation recommends:

  • We develop further evaluation approaches to measure progress after each individual has moved into the community and the number of clients who return to their services.
  • Further investment in research is needed to quantify wider savings to other services, such as the criminal justice system.

The results follow a similar three-year evaluation of the outcomes of our personalised community mental health support, which concluded last year. The findings also demonstrated increases in wellbeing, as well as significant improvements in social support and relationships.

Liz Felton, Chief Executive, Together for Mental Wellbeing, said:

“At Together we believe that people can go on to lead an independent and fulfilling life, no matter where they start on their journey to recovering from mental distress. For people who have experienced severe mental health issues, this journey can be quite a difficult one. We designed our Progression Together services to give people choice and control over how they are supported, enabling them to progress towards living independently at a pace that’s right for them.

“The results of this evaluation are really encouraging. They show us that giving people choice and control enables them to progress from receiving a high level of support towards living on their own. We will be using the results of this evaluation, to champion the benefits of personalised support. We hope that by doing so we can ensure more people have access to truly personalised support which gives them the best chance of moving on with their life.”

Case study

Tom experienced a breakdown a few years ago and was at the point of suicide. After receiving support from a Progression Together service, Tom has taken huge steps forward. He says:

“A few years ago I had a breakdown and I was at the point of suicide. I remember saying to my mum ‘get used to the fact that I won’t be around for much longer.’

I was stressed and felt like I was going out of my mind.

I was admitted to hospital and eventually got ‘well enough’ to be discharged.

If, when I left hospital, I’d have gone back to where I was living, I’m sure I would have had another breakdown.

But since coming to a Progression Together service, I now feel like I want to live. I feel so much better in myself.

There’s been a massive improvement in my mental health since I’ve been living here. The staff are easy to talk to and approachable. They make you feel safe and help you to get better, in a way that suits you. They don’t tell you what to do; they let you do what you want to do. I really respect the staff as they are 110% dedicated to their jobs and always go the extra mile to make sure are staying well – even when I feel like I am really annoying.

I’m even exercising now, for example, I love playing tennis and badminton and I make sure I get out every day, even if it is just walking to the shops.

When I first came here I hadn’t been to the cinema in over 12 years, but now it is something I regularly do and I really enjoy it. The staff also encourage you to eat well, so I’m feeling better physically as well as mentally.

In my last review I set some goals and one of them was give up smoking so we’ve started to look into some aids. I’d also like to go into less supported accommodation once I am able to.

I’ve gone full circle – I used to feel like I couldn’t take this life anymore, but now I feel so much more positive about life and my future. I used to think about suicide every day, but now I don’t think about it at all.

Coming here was the best thing for me. I want to live now, and now when I speak to my mum I can say I’m really happy to be alive.”

Visit www.together-uk.org/progression-together-evaluation for further information on the evaluation, including case studies.

For further information please contact the Communications Team on 0207 7807 316.