Around one third of all GP appointments are related to mental health issues. Not a surprise when evidence shows that 1 in 4 are people experience a mental health problem at any given time and that 15% of people at work have a condition that costs the nation over £3billion. Support services for mental health problems in Dorset are stretched to the limits and people can wait weeks to receive essential help with their difficulties. That’s why Shore Medical have joined up with Dorset Mind to trial a new type of support for patients when they show signs of mild to moderate mental health problems.

 The new free service is called ‘Active Monitoring’ – a 6 week programme of support developed and tested by Mind. It is designed to help people at an early stage of their difficulties, and to guide them through a journey of self-support. It is available to patients over 16 registered with Shore Medical.

 Because Active Monitoring is available very soon after people raise their concerns with their doctor, (with no waiting time) patients are likely to get better much more quickly. People are less likely to develop serious difficulties or need more intensive and expensive mental health services later.

 The Active Monitoring Practitioner is part of the surgery team and meets with patients who are referred by the GP or Nurse. An initial 15-minute meeting helps the patient and the Active Monitoring Practitioner identify how best to work together using a series of workbooks and other resources. These tools are designed to guide the patient through their recovery and teach them how to take actions to maximise their mental health and wellbeing. The programme is best suited to people who are experiencing depression, grief, loss, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger and stress.

 This new service has been tested elsewhere in the country with excellent results. It is not designed to replace other important support options like counselling, medication or specialist intervention. But to work alongside those services to ensure people receive the right support at the right time and don’t need to wait unnecessarily on long waiting lists.

 Active Monitoring is a service offered by Dorset Mind which is a charity working alongside Shore Medical. It is a free service offered to patients paid for from Dorset Mind’s charitable funds. Shore Medical are funding Dorset Mind to deliver this exciting pilot at their practices. Dorset Mind relies heavily on donated income from local businesses and communities, from individuals and from grants.

Dorset Mind believes that the people of Dorset should receive mental health support at the time that they need it and works hard to remove the barriers to people receiving the support they need – like long waiting times or lack of information and guidance. The charity wants to make Active Monitoring available in every GP practice across the county.  But it is desperately in need of funds to do so. The charity is actively seeking support from members of the community, including businesses, groups and individuals to help to raise vital funds to deliver Active Monitoring so that more people, in more places can get the help they need.

Marianne Storey, CEO of Dorset Mind said: 

“We are taking significant steps to broaden the reach of our work across Dorset, to better support the mental health of our community. To do this, we must work closely with NHS services to find areas where we can support the wider system and provide complementary, economical, and effective mental health support. We want to ensure, just as our NHS colleagues do, that if someone reaches out to their GP when experiencing mental health problems, that they can get appropriate, timely, professional and effective support. With the restrictions on funding for mental health, however, that is not always possible and the NHS can’t always see everyone all of the time. So, with the help of the Dorset community, Dorset Mind can work together with NHS services and enable them to continue delivering their vital specialist mental and physical health support whilst offering something different but complementary, like Active Monitoring which is an early, gentle, informative and supportive programme with no waiting times and has had excellent outcomes in other parts of the country. We want to work together with the NHS to strengthen the local mental health system.”

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