NHS Mental Health Transformation: What does it look like?

by Stacey Marriott – Night Light Cafe Coordinator

The Night Light Cafes are part of the NHS Transformation programme for Lincolnshire. But what does that mean?

In the Night Light cafes, and indeed in my everyday life, I often have conversations with people who have felt let down by ‘the system’ when it comes to their mental health. They may have been told they are not poorly enough to receive support, or even too poorly to receive the support they have tried to access. With long waiting lists and overstretched staff teams, the NHS have received a lot of bad press over the years and when people feel let down by the organisation who is meant to be helping them this can be detrimental to their already diminished mental health. 

However, times are changing: hope is at hand. Those in positions of authority within the NHS have recognised that the old ways were not working and things needed to change. Transformation was necessary on a large scale to turn things around so that those in need of help and support would have their needs met. This is the position from which the NHS Mental Health Transformation programme was born. This is a countrywide transformation, with Lincolnshire being chosen as one of the 12 early implementer sites to begin rolling out the changes.

In this new way of doing things, a large emphasis is placed on community and finances have been invested into third sector organisations, including Acts Trust, to develop community offers such as the Night Light Cafes. This is a strong model to follow, as statutory services usually only have capacity to support people in the short term whereas a person’s community can offer long term, permanent support. As one mental health practitioner puts it when speaking with her patients “your community will never discharge you.”   

Victoria Sleight, The Mental Health Transformation Manager for Lincolnshire, recently shared “We need to help people to embrace all the massive voluntary sector assets that we have got within the community….. It is about wrapping the care around the person.” Victoria also describes this as being more holistic than a medicalised model, and has the added strengths of being local with no waiting list required. 

As well as developing the third sector support offer, the transformation programme has created some new job roles, such as peer support workers, Community Connectors and Social Prescribing Link Workers. 

It is exciting and encouraging to be a part of this transformation process and we are pleased to be able to share the good news of an improved system with those we welcome into the Night Light Cafes.

More information about the NHS Transformation Programme can be found here: https://www.itsallaboutpeople.info/programmes/mental-health-transformation

And more information about the Night Light Cafes can be found here: 

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