Time to Talk Day – Helping people to build strong support networks
General / Thu 1st Feb 2024 at 05:07pm
WHEN you are struggling, having good support networks and knowing you are not alone can really make a difference.
Time to Talk Day (Thursday 1 February) is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation, for us to come together to talk, listen and change lives.
The campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and encourages friends, families, communities, and work colleagues to talk about mental health.
Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) runs a ground-breaking approach to bringing family and friends together to support loved ones who are recovering from mental health challenges.
The Essex Mental Health Family Group Conferencing Service works with adults aged 18 to 65 who are receiving care from secondary mental health services such as those run by EPUT.
The team of social workers and mental health nurses supports and encourages individuals to take the lead in planning and managing their recovery.
They involve family, friends and professionals of their choice to support them with decision-making, particularly during times of crisis when having a strong support network is especially important.
The team supported 87 people and their networks last year and their work complements the treatment and care provided by other mental health services.
Faustina Mensah, a Social Worker and Family Group Conference (FGC) co-ordinator, said: “Working with the FGC model enables me to recognise the uniqueness of each individual and their network we work with.
“We take a person-centred approach and support them to identify their strengths to enable them move forward in their mental health recovery.”
Sarah Buchanan, a Mental Health Nurse and FGC co-ordinator, said it gives both the individual and their network a voice.
“We are able to reach out to the wider family and support network which allows them to have a space to also explore their views, concerns and worries about the adult that they support,” she said.
“I enjoy being able to take time to really sit down and listen to the adult and their experience of their difficulties and their goals for the future.
“We can explore areas of their life and viewpoints that may not have always been explored.
“Family group conference does not necessarily provide the magic wand to fix everything for the individual.
“However by helping them develop even the most simplest of plans with their network, this can really make the biggest of changes within their lives.”
Administrator Parva Naaseri said: “Family is an association bonding us together.
“Every member is an individual in their own right, each bringing joy and challenges to this association.
“Family Group Conference cultivates the family’s potential to excel and develop, and empowers them to grow to their greatest potential.”
People who have taken part in family group conferencing have found it to be a positive experience. Examples of feedback include:
“Family members are more aware of my triggers since my family group conferencing and should react positively towards me in the future.”
“We do feel more together as a couple.”
“We felt it helped us very much as a family. It helped us understand a lot more.”
“It offered an opportunity for everyone to express their views in a “safe” space. It focused minds on ways to move forward. It has given everyone involved an element on control on how to progress having the plan helps measure the progress and take the onus off any one person.”
Referrals to the Family Group Conferencing Service can come from the individuals themselves or from professionals.