We are proud to share details of the Mental Health Surge programme, a new way of funding Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector led mental health support. The programme is an innovation of the GM VCSE Mental Health Leaders Group* who invited GMCVO to join them in facilitating the work. The programme will help to meet the unprecedented surge in demand for VCSE mental health services.
The programme is piloting a new approach of concentrating funding (secured by the GM Health and Social Care Partnership) on creative ways of getting mental health professionals to where and when they are needed in the system. The aim is to avoid competition in favour of encouraging collaboration and sharing expertise and funding.
Whilst the funding is short term and designed to meet the needs of surges and swell in demand, all projects within the programme are being developed with sustainability in mind as there is potential for future funding.
The programme has a number of different elements;
A ‘bank’ system has been set up to help stabilise the pressures of meeting supply and demand with a limited workforce. VCSE sector mental health support providers are able to offer up staff (with capacity) to the bank, or instantaneously draw down staff from other VCSE sector organisations to counter surges in demand as they happen.
Since March 2021, a ‘Digital Support’ strand to the programme has enabled VCSE sector mental health practitioners from existing GM services, to be seconded to children and young people's mental health charity, 42nd Street. These staff are being trained to deliver online counselling and psychosocial support to young people via a secure, online platform that has been co-created with young people.
Demand for this online support increased by 600% between March 2020 and February 2021, with waiting times going from 72 hours to over 90 days. The programme has already helped to half these waiting times
The staff supplied courtesy of the Mental Health Surge programme have already helped to nearly half the waiting times and have delivered high quality support to marginalised and vulnerable young people who increasingly struggled to find support over the last year.
A secondee to 42nd Street from Levenshulme Youth Project said;
“The training provided for the job was clear and most importantly concise. The boundaries that are set at 42nd Street are great and I have felt very respected and valued as a staff member.
This opportunity was perfect for me as it allowed me to work from home, and gain some invaluable experience of learning what it is like to work only on an online platform and to improve my skills. Because I knew I was being seconded from Levenshulme Youth Project, the process of being able to start the job was also quicker than applying for and starting a job that is not a secondment. The opportunity was also flexible around my other work commitments and because Levenshulme Youth Project sort out paying my hours for 42nd Street it meant I would be paid at the same time for both my jobs which was nice too.”
Another arm of the programme is enabling VCSE organisations to increase their capacity by extending their operational hours. Funding allows for organisations to either ‘purchase’ additional hours for their own staff to meet demand, or organisations can request staff from the bank.
Fifteen organisations have had funding approved and began extending their hours from April.
We are already seeing waiting times being reduced from 10 weeks to three with an extra 5,000 sessions offered for over 1,100 people
The MH Surge programme is also enabling providers of family mental health support services to share skills, knowledge and delivery models.
So far the initiative has funded three schemes that will support young carers and their families that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic
A mapping exercise that over 100 providers across Greater Manchester responded to, has shown where the gaps in and pressures on provision lie, both geographically and the type of service support for families that is needed. The Family Support working group will be holding information sessions in July about the next round of funding to meet that specific demand.
All areas of work are being overseen by an Equalities Group that is ensuring the different the programmes address the inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic which is a key focus of the work of the GM VCSE MH Leaderships group.
42nd Street is now recruiting more staff for its Digital Support offer. If a member of staff is looking for a secondment or to increase their hours of work, then this opportunity would be ideal. This is a key role in delivering all therapeutic aspects of online support at 42nd Street embodying their approach to evidence based, informed practice and ensuring accessible, inclusive, young person-centred support.
* 20 organisations operating in mental health and wellbeing who represent and advocate for the other thousands of VCSE organisations that work to support and improve Greater Manchester’s mental health