Re-shaping Mental Health Services in Reading

THERE are plans to re-shape mental health services in Reading to have a greater focus on empowering people to take charge of their recovery, whilst keeping services cost effective and sustainable. 

The Council consulted with the public in July and August 2016 on the future of mental health services in Reading. The consultation was particularly focused on people with professional and personal experience of mental health problems, including family carers.

The consultation feedback indicated people were in favour of developing a local Recovery College delivering peer-led education and training programmes to support people back to mental health. However, people said that social contact and welfare support also need to be available to complement recovery courses.

The Compass Recovery College launched in September in partnership with New Directions and Sport in Mind. It is being developed to reflect previous consultation feedback, and there is a strong commitment to have service users shape the future direction of the college. The college is located at 135 Bulmershe Road.

There are now proposals to consider the future of the current Reading Your Way (RYW) service, which offers a day service for people with mental health problems, when the contract expires in 2017. This service is jointly funded by the Council and the Berkshire West CCGs.

Around 10 per cent of RYW service users are already registered with the Compass Recovery College. Other RYW users will now be encouraged to join the College. Additionally, support would be offered to transfer to alternative community based services.

All current RYW users will now be consulted on how best they can be supported, including how they can be helped to transition to alternative options, including the Recovery College, and what kind of support would work for them. There will also be a consultation with RYW volunteers and peer mentors.

The proposals are a result of increasing pressure from government budget cuts. The Council has to make some hard choices about which services to continue and how. It needs to make sure there is enough funding to keep services running and to make sure all services are cost effective.

The Council needs to tackle an estimated budget gap of over £42 million by 2020. £65 million worth of savings have already been made since 2011.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Lead Member for Health and the Council’s Mental Health Champion, said:

“People told us in July they were in support of a Recovery College style of service combined with access to support in a more informal way.

“Unfortunately, due to major government funding cuts, we cannot continue to support the existing service and must now look to how we can make the most of our limited resources, whilst maximizing the benefit to users of the mental health services.

“Although we appreciate any change is difficult for service users, we believe the new services available will link users to support through a model which is in line with best practice and has a focus on promoting self-reliance and personal development.”

Cllr Rachel Eden, Lead Member for Adult Social Care, said: 

“Despite the challenge of massive cuts to council budgets, we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our community and to improving the services available so that adults affected by mental health needs can access timely help and enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives.” 

A consultation on these changes launched on 6th December and will run for 12 weeks. For more information contact 0118 937 4772 or visit: www.reading.gov.uk/readingyourway

To find out more about Compass Recovery College, call 0118 937 3945 or email compass.opportunities@reading.gov.uk 

Ends

Notes to editor

Recovery Colleges

Recovery Colleges are run like any other college, providing education as a route to recovery. Courses are co-devised and co-delivered by people with lived experience of mental illness and by mental health professionals. The benefit of increased focus on a Recovery College and other community provision include increased user independence and integration into the wider community.