This is a break from my usual thoughts on the world of social enterprise – though not entirely disconnected. My social enterprise, Social Spider CIC, is launching a new publication today. It’s called Better Mental Health in a Bigger Society? and it’s published by mental health umbrella organisation, Mental Health Providers Forum. If you’d like to read it, it’s available for download here.
The thinkpiece – which I’ve written with my colleague, Mark Brown, editor of mental health magazine, One in Four magazine – looks at the opportunities and challenges created for people with mental health difficulties by the set of ideas currently known as the Big Society. It discovers surprising overlaps between Big Society thinking and changes that many people with mental health difficulties have long hoped for but set within a climate where pressures on public finances risk destroying the potential for community innovation.
We suggest ways in which the NHS, local authorities and new health and wellbeing boards can support the development of a strong and diverse mental health landscape. This means supporting community groups to enable them to provide real choice and opportunities for people with mental health difficulties. As an alternative to a Big Society vision based on altruistic volunteering, the thinkpiece explores ideas such as co-production, peer services, personalisation, user-led organisations, and other community-based activities that put people with mental health difficulties at the heart of their own recovery.
Better Mental Health in a Bigger Society? challenges the tendency for thinking about mental health to focus solely on discussions of medical services. It provides examples of innovative mental health projects delivering the non-medical support that people need to stay well – many of which will be under threat from lack of funding as local authorities and the NHS retreat ‘behind the front line’ to concentrate on ‘core services’.
It would be great if you could find time to have a read and let us know what you think.