We're nearing the end of our ‘Discover’ phase...

In our last blog we talked about how we intended working with the co-design teams in Moray and the Scottish Borders. We have now held workshops with both teams. We are nearing the end of our ‘Discover’ (research) phase of the pathway in Moray and part of the way through this phase in the Scottish Borders.

In Moray we are working on the theme of ‘Access to self-directed support for people with mental health problems’. We have eight people who access mental health services and one unpaid carer, along with practitioners from social work, health promotion and service providers, on the co-design team. We held the first workshop with the people who access services and the unpaid carer. We felt we needed to give them the same opportunities the practitioners had already had to find out more about Pilotlight and decide whether they wanted to participate before bringing the whole co-design team together. 

At the first workshop we looked at:

  • Well-being 
  • An introduction to Pilotlight and self-directed support
  • Lived experiences of mental health problems & services
  • Preparation for participatory action research
  • Feedback on the day

We also had a lunch to which we invited the practitioner members of the co-design team. Everyone who came along was asked to bring a physical object that represented something that keeps them well. We asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell us about their object. People brought along a whole range of objects, including motorcycle gloves, welly boots, mobile phones, and a log. But by far the most popular object was a photograph of a pet cat or dog. These featured much more frequently than photographs of partners or children! 

Everyone went away from the first work shop equipped with interview schedules, recording equipment and cameras to do some research into mental health awareness in Moray. They then presented their findings to the whole co-design team at the second workshop. 

Key findings were:

  • Many people didn’t know very much about mental health services in Moray unless they were already using them
  • A lack of understanding and knowledge about mental health came across strongly
  • Generally people were unsure as to how they would access services
  • Most people would speak to their GP
  • Internet and leaflets were the most common information sources mentioned
  • There is a lack of information
  • There is a lot of stigma associated with mental health

At the second workshop we identified the barriers to access to self-directed support for people with mental health problems, but also the opportunities it offers. These included:

  • Flexibility, Choice – of service, worker, location
  • Ability to plan ahead
  • More and different opportunities
  • Try new things out. Purchase service for a trial period.
  • More control : building self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Creativity
  • Most effective services will flourish
  • Opportunities for micro enterprises
  • Short term solutions for short term problems
  • Opportunities for individuals to pool their budgets 
  • Help people who want something else or who have fallen through the cracks
  • Do away with service monopolies

At the third workshop we will be deciding which of the barriers we want to focus on designing solutions for. Already identified is the need for information specific to people with mental health problems. Everyone went away from the second workshop with research assignment : to find one or more pieces of effective information. We await the ‘show and tell’ session at the workshop next week with anticipation!