LIVERPOOL MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY PARTNERS WITH ELEMENTAL IN A BID TO BROADEN THE REACH AND IMPACT OF SOCIAL PRESCRIBING IN THE VCSE SECTOR
A charity specialising in supporting people with mental health challenges is partnering with Elemental, to take forward a new collaborative approach to social prescribing in the third sector.
Imagine Independence, a national Liverpool based charity which works with people with mental health and other needs to enable them to live full and independent lives, will work with the Derry based social prescribing specialists to use its digital platform to refer service users to health and wellbeing activities.
Elemental’s Core social prescribing platform enables organisations to easily and quickly refer people to activities in their local areas as an alternative to clinical treatments, something which is being increasingly recognised as the way forward in supporting a wide range of mental health and other illnesses.
Working in collaboration with secondary care
Imagine Independence will work with Elemental to pilot the approach initially in Merton, London. It will work collaboratively with secondary care organisations and community providers to connect up services and support and enable a streamlined referral pathway. Through Elemental’s platform, Imagine will be able to directly measure the impact of social prescribing activities on an individual’s health and wellbeing.
Margaret Hanson, Chief Executive of Imagine Independence, said: “There is growing evidence that shows the difference that social prescribing activities can make to health and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to mental health, but for a long time, social prescribing has been seen as primarily in the domain of primary care.
The charity sector is often on the front line when people need help and support who may otherwise not come into contact with a health and wellbeing professional, and so is well placed to help to broaden the reach of social prescribing and its impact. Elemental’s platform will be key to our new approach going forward and will help to radically overhaul how Imagine refers people into services and support our aim to transform the lives of people with mental health challenges.”
Broadening the reach of social prescribing
Jennifer Neff, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Elemental Software, said: “We’re excited to be working with the Imagine Independence team to develop its approach to social prescribing and supporting its vital work to tackle the issue of mental health. Our digital platform is playing an important part in joining up services and support across the country and we are looking forward to working with Imagine to develop this innovative new approach, enabling more people to benefit from social prescribing.”
Sourcing a suitable alternative to medication
Mental health continues to be a significant public health issue with approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year.
Research by the Mental Health Foundation found that 78% of GPs had prescribed an antidepressant in the previous three years, despite believing that an alternative treatment might have been more appropriate.
It also found that 66% had done so because a suitable alternative was not available, 62% because there was a waiting list for the suitable alternative, and 33% because the patient requested antidepressants. Of the GPs surveyed, 60% said they would prescribe antidepressants less frequently if other options were available to them (Mental Health Foundation 2005)
While both medication and psychological therapies have a role, social prescribing provides a suitable alternative and further opportunity to respond effectively, and at an early stage, to symptoms of mental distress, as well as to initiate a more proactive approach to mental health promotion.