Cumbria at the forefront of mental health innovation

Local NHS services are highlighting good practice in mental health in a bid to raise awareness and tackle stigma.

World Mental Health Day takes place on 10th October, and aims to get people thinking about mental health issues, which affect 1 in 4 people in any given year.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust provide inpatient and community mental health services across the county, and are sharing some of the innovative work that is taking place in Cumbria.

  • First Step are piloting the use of a new computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT) in Cumbria. Patients aged over 18 will be able to access this from within their own homes at any time unlike some earlier versions of cCBT which meant people had to travel to community venues. This will enable some adults with common mental health problems, such as depression, worry and panic disorders, to access therapy in a way that is more convenient to them and fits around their lifestyle. 

    Richard Thwaites, Clinical Director of First Step, added: “This type of therapy looks at how the way we think, feel and act impacts on our mental health. It helps people to change the way they think and behave to break the patterns that we can easily fall into. By having a range of options, including face to face CBT, counselling and computerised CBT, more people will get access to the support they need.” 

    First Step staff are currently undergoing training to guide people through using cCBT, and the first people in Cumbria will start to use the new therapy from next month.  
     
  • In inpatient services, improvements to the way service users are assessed and admitted to acute wards has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of people being sent out of county to receive care.  The Acute Admission Pathway (AAP) – which has been shortlisted for a prestigious Health Service Journal Award for the second year running – has reduced the number of patients sent out of county for acute inpatient treatment from 33 in 2014/15 to 5 last year (2016/17). 

    Dr Doug Maisey, Clinical Director and Consultant Clinical Psychologist, said: “By changing the way we work and streamlining our processes, we can ensure service users get the care they need without spending additional time in an inpatient unit. It means more service users are receiving treatment closer to home, near to their families, and benefiting from improved review meetings, one to one consultations and more time spent with healthcare staff.”
     
  • People who need mental health support in an emergency are being helped by the revolutionary Multi-Agency Crisis Assessment Service (MACAS). The county’s health and social care providers, third sector organisations, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Cumbria Constabulary have been working together on a pilot programme to ensure that people in mental health crisis don’t spend hours in a police cell or in A&E while waiting for mental health services . The programme incorporates a single point of access telephone line for emergency services (countywide), a 72 hour assessment centre and a mental health crisis hub – The Lighthouse – which is run by two charities in Carlisle city centre. 
     
  • An innovative new service called ‘Reach Out’ is being introduced in partnership with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust to detect and improve outcomes for people in hospital who are at risk of delirium – mental confusion which can occur as a result of illness.  

    Also in memory and later life services, virtual clinics are being rolled out across Cumbria. This award winning approach has helped patients be diagnosed with Dementia four times faster, speeding up the whole process and making it much more patient focused. The team have also been developing services for younger people with dementia, have introduced Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, which aims to improve the mental abilities and memory of someone with dementia, and are continuing to develop their award winning #seethePERSON project which aims to ensure care is centred on the person and their family.

    David Storm, Senior Clinical Services Manager said “Our memory and later life services are continuing to develop and introduce new innovative approaches for people and families experiencing dementia and other age related mental health needs across Cumbria. Working closely with partners, these approaches aim to ensure the person experiencing dementia (or other mental health needs) and their family is at the centre of care with services working together to protect and enhance their wellbeing and quality of life.”

Stephen Eames, Interim Chief Executive at CPFT said: “We’re really proud to be at the forefront of innovation here in Cumbria. It’s a testament to how important mental health is and we are committed to improving the health needs of our local communities – the communities we live and work in.”

World Mental Health Day is an annual event, supported by health care and third sector organisations around the globe, including mental health charity Mind. The Mindline Cumbria is available 12noon-9pm Mon-Fri and 5-9pm Sat on 0300 561 0000 for anyone who would like support with mental health issues.