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Guest blog: how to deliver mental health services in challenging circumstances

Written by: Vicky Ayres - 24th March 2021

In this blog Vicky Ayres, who leads the adult crisis home treatment team at NAVIGO – a social enterprise that provides mental health services – talks about the importance of looking after each other, particularly at this very difficult time. She also tells us about some of the changes they had to implement in response to the pandemic which are likely to continue in the future.

When the pandemic started, we knew that we had to reorganise our services so that staff felt safe coming into work, but we also needed to support staff at home who had to shield, but still wanted to continue working.

We had to think about how we could continue to operate some of our core services including our 24/7 support telephone line, access to our voluntary and community services and our crisis services. Therefore, it was important to have the right equipment in place, to provide the necessary training to our staff, to ensure people working from home had the right set up and could connect to the system.

It was essential to consider how to support staff working remotely including supervision, telephone check-ins and taking time to make sure staff was coping with the new situation and discuss what extra support was needed.

Some of the changes we implemented have proved successful in helping to maintain a quality service that is valuable to patients and staff alike. And we are looking to retain some of these positive changes in the future.

For instance, the immediate need to rapidly respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic has created stronger collaborative working relationships across organisations. Of course, we previously worked with these organisations, but the willingness and goodwill to help redirect and refocus some of their services to this 24/7 support helpline has been overwhelming. Those working relationships continue to grow stronger and we will be maintaining them moving forward.

When you work on the frontline delivering mental health support, it is a pressured role, but the pandemic has contributed to adding extra pressure on staff. However, the sheer passion and commitment of staff to do their best to support people to prevent a crisis or de-escalate a crisis has really shone through this year. It is so important to ensure we look after and support each other to help build our resilience. It can be as simple as a telephone call to ask: “what are you up to?, “do you have time for a chat?”.

It is ok not to be ok, let us help each other to get through this together.

Learn more about the challenges faced by healthcare services across the North East and Yorkshire in a new article by our CEO Richard Stubbs