Building Communities That Care
Our report found that people severely affected by mental illness wanted most support in getting benefits, staying active, and accessing free community initiative such as gardening or peer support groups. But many people we surveyed reported that they are not being offered this support.
We think that when we support people as a ‘whole’, we can give them the opportunity to thrive, which we argue in our new report Building communities that care: A blueprint for supporting people severely affected by mental illness in their local communities by 2024.
When it comes to supporting people severely affected by mental illness, making sure people are able to access high quality treatment in a timely manner is one vital part of the picture. But we also need to think about all the other factors that shape our mental health: our housing, our jobs, our financial situation, and our support networks. When experiencing unemployment or insecure housing, it can make people more unwell and unsure of where to turn.
What we’re calling for
We think it’s time that communities and organisations come together to play its part in providing social activities, volunteering opportunities, or advice for issues such as debt or employment. This in turn can lighten the burden that people with mental illness carry.
- Less than a third of people (30%) we surveyed in April 2019 about what support they’d want to receive were offered help finding suitable housing or tenancy support.
- Only 23% were offered support finding a job or staying in work, while not all those who wanted to find a volunteering placement (38%) ended up receiving support to do so (27%).
- The three areas people with mental illness most want support in are applying for benefits (50%), staying active (48%) and getting involved in free community initiatives (48%).
- Half of the people we surveyed in April 2019 said they were not involved in community wellbeing projects, for example gardening, arts and crafts or social clubs – mostly because they did not know what projects were in their area (61%).
- People living in London were the least likely to access community projects due to a lack of knowledge about opportunities in their area (77%), followed by people in North West England at 75%.
- 70% of people who had received mental health support for over four years reported wanting support finding a job or staying in work but only 35% received this support
‘My town’ – a case study
When we get people’s housing right, they can thrive. At Rethink Mental Illness’ supported housing service in Folkestone, tenants set their own goals from learning how to cook or manage a budget and bank account to travelling on the bus and volunteering. Over a two-year tenancy, tenants are supported to achieve these milestones. One tenant who had been helped to attend university found the deadlines and daily interactions with large groups of people detrimental to their recovery. Despite this setback, staff worked with the tenant to see the experience not as a failure but a valid learning process – and they are now embarking on an Open University course which is better suited to them. Another tenant who had previously been often in and out of mental health hospitals is now living independently and working as a lay pastor following a two-year stay at the Folkestone service.
What integrated community care should look like
Download our 'Building communities that care' report.