We know that with the right support, at the right time, people with mental health needs can thrive in their community. We also know that getting the right support at the right time doesn’t always happen; it can be a confusing and long-winded process.

While services for people living with mental illness have improved over the last decade, a lack of coordination of person-centred, holistic treatment and support has remained a key area of concern.

Our reports 'Communities That Care report' and 'Thinking Differently' have highlighted ways that service providers (‘the system’) can come together with the community including people with lived experience, to co-design and co-deliver a new joined-up approach that will improve the quality of lives.

In 2021, Rethink Mental Illness secured  £3 million of funding over three years to work with NHS and VCSE (voluntary, community and social enterprises) partners, and people with lived experience, to facilitate four new alliances, building on the Communities That Care model. We have a range of expertise in our Community Mental Health Unit (CMHU) to drive this work.

Sheffield will be one of Rethink’s four national innovation sites in England to support communities and health and social care systems to come together to realise whole society and whole system mental health ambitions.

The initial steps towards achieving this will be the formation of networked stakeholders working together under an umbrella alliance. The objectives will be around supporting Sheffield to transition to Whole System Working, co-production of an outcomes framework for new integrated charity, social enterprise and statutory services, and supporting grassroots organisations through micro-grants and connection to other sector stakeholders.

Our CMHU in Sheffield is facilitating this work in these three phases:

The first phase is facilitating greater collaboration of voluntary and community resources for mental health and recovery in Sheffield through an alliance. We are currently running workshops to explore the purpose,  nature, and form of an alliance. We have contacted over 60 organisations and groups in the area, with the majority expressing interest. We already have lived experience partners in Sheffield to be part of this work from the outset so that collaboration discussions have people with mental health needs, their carers and families as the central focus.

The second phase will involve the creation of the alliance and stakeholders coming together to agree on the structure and ways of working together, and together with statutory system partners. This phase will include establishing an Alliance Partnership Board for decision making/service allocation, a Finance & Audit Committee and an Operational Delivery Group to foster accountability, transparency and sustainability. The Sheffield CMHU initiative will be one of four national alliance sites for Rethink Mental Illness, following a successful alliance in Somerset. For more information, please see our Somerset Open Mental Health project.

The third and final phase of the implementation plan will involve regular feedback and evaluation to ensure that learning is shared across the alliance and the whole health and care system so that care and support are more joined-up, holistic and personalised, leading to a better quality of life and mental health outcomes for people.

For more information, please contact our local team at sheffield.cmhu@rethink.org