Feeling alone, depressed and shorn of hope can be debilitating and destabilising. Accessing appropriate mental health support can be challenging. The purpose of this post is to signpost readers to support that Self Help, @WeAreSelfHelp on Twitter, can provide for people suffering from mild to moderate depression through face-to-face talking therapy to the safe places the organisation can provide for individuals in acute mental distress in Manchester, Bolton and Wigan.
Self Help was founded fourteen years ago, but I had never heard of it until I stumbled upon it while looking at Manchester Cathedral’s Instagram feed. With my curiosity roused I headed along to Manchester Cathedral one Friday morning in early February to one of the NHS funded charity’s drop in sessions.
The answers below were given by Leanne Chisnall, the Service Manager, at Self Help.
1) How does Self Help fit in with NHS provision in Greater Manchester?
“Self Help was established in 1995 by Nicky Lidbetter and Glenmore Nunes who developed a drop-in support group for those living with anxiety disorders as a direct result of there being little support at the time in the city of Manchester.
The group (which ran under the Big Life group) was an overnight success and it soon became apparent that there was a need for further groups covering different mental health conditions such as depression.
Throughout the late 90s, Self Help delivered a wide range of drop-in support groups and subsequently developed a reputation for responding to community-based needs through the delivery of high quality services.
With the introduction of the government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative (IAPT), the charity was approached by a number of NHS commissioning bodies to deliver a range of primary care mental health services including managing and delivering full IAPT tier 2 and 3 services alongside delivering its well-established eTherapy services.
More recently, the organisation’s long history of responding to unmet need and developing services where there are gaps in mental health provision is best illustrated by the development of community and peer-centred crisis provision through The Sanctuary and associated crisis service provision which have received national recognition. Self Help believe that those who have personal experience of living with a mental health difficulty are well placed, when provided with access to relevant training and support, to deliver services that help others and in doing so, ‘helping people to help themselves’.
Many Self Help staff have previously accessed services delivered by the charity, resulting in a culture of ‘growing our own’ – i.e. supporting people to gain employment and volunteering experience.
Self Help sits within the Big Life group, is a registered charity (no. 1122063) and a company limited by guarantee (no. 6036050).”
2a) How does the Self Help Crisis line differ from services offered by Sane and the Samaritans?
“The Sanctuary is unique in that it offers an appropriate place of safety and support overnight, from 8pm – 6am, for people experiencing mental health difficulties to attend in person, following an initial phone call.
On the night of a visit, you can stay as long as you wish between 8pm and 6am. Some people choose to leave The Sanctuary once their initial crisis has passed and they have been able to calm down; others may need to stay longer. The length of your stay will vary according to your needs. We offer non-clinical support in a non-stigmatising manner.”
2b) Are callers from outside the area covered by Self Help redirected to other services?
“We will never turn anyone away and offer support to anyone calling in crisis. However, if someone is calling from another area, we will make sure they find the right support in their area, going forward.”
3a) Does Self Help offer any ‘in company’ support for employees suffering from mental distress in the workplace?
“We offer eTherapy programmes to help people who are deadline with work-related stress.”
3b) Does Self Help seek to educate employers about mental health issues through workplace based training?
“We do indeed offer workshop and training session to help employers manage the wellbeing and work-life balance of their employees. We offer this on an ad-hoc basis, as and when requested, to suit the organisation’s needs.”
Thank you Leanne for your time and Nathan Bibbon, Self Help’s Communication Officer, for putting my questions to her.