Mental health support in Lambeth: Meet the Staying Well team

Agnes, manager of the Staying Well team, discusses her work supporting people in Lambeth with mental health support needs

Mental health support in Lambeth: Meet the Staying Well team

“I’m Agnes, team manager for the Staying Well team, which is part of the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance (LWNA). I’ve been at Thames Reach since 2017, initially as a lead worker in our women’s-only hostel before transferring to the Alliance in 2018.

“Staying Well is a new service within the LWNA which aims to act as a ‘bridge’ between primary and secondary mental health care. This is a very exciting opportunity for me and the team as over the first year our aim is to develop the offer by testing and learning what works.

“The team will be working in innovative ways to support people who are ready to be discharged from secondary mental health services to stay well in the community, as well as working with GPs to support people in primary care who have been identified as having unmet mental health needs, but who appear not to meet the threshold for a referral to secondary care service.

“The service will focus on timely engagement, social inclusion, building autonomy and independence, as well as improving physical health outcomes, such as supporting and encouraging people to attend medical appointments.

“Anyone who has worked in ending street homelessness will have first-hand awareness that there is a clear link between mental health, physical health, and street homelessness. We are working to support people with early interventions, making sure they have access to the right services, help reduce isolation, look after their physical health, and stay in their own homes. We don’t give up on people, we meet them where they are, and we do what we say we are going to do.

“In the Staying Well team, we have been working very hard to implement a new service and make it a part of the offer we have for people who are experiencing mental health difficulties in Lambeth. We are at an early development stage, and we have much more to learn than to teach. However, I am once again convinced that in order to support people to the best to our ability, collaboration and communication between all parties involved in an individual’s care is essential. Continuous work at both organisational and individual levels to break down stereotypes and preconceived ideas we have about people we support is also vital to provide tailored support which meets the individual’s needs.

“I am proud of how flexible we are as a team, whilst maintaining a clear vision of what we want to achieve. I am constantly impressed by my team; their innovation, enthusiasm, and dedication to the people we work with inspires me every day. I learned that perseverance, resilience, innovation, and an ability to not just listen but also hear, are just some of the qualities required when setting up a service which aims to introduce new ways of supporting people with mental health needs.”