HEALTH: Dorset Mind team up with GPs to improve mental health treatment


Dorset Mind charity have partnered with a medical care service to trial a new service to support people with mental health issues. 

Around one third of all GP appointments are related to mental health issues. Not a very surprising fact when research suggests 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem at any given time.

This statistic is one that is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. The original survey revealed that around one in four adults met the criteria for at least one of the psychiatric conditions being studied. For instance, anxiety, depression, phobias, eating disorders and drug and alcohol addictions were all conditions and behaviours that were analysed. However, the mistake people often make is putting a time frame on the result. Each condition is typically measured on a different time scale. Addictive behaviours, for example were measured in a six-month period, whilst depressive symptoms were analysed for just a week. Different mental health conditions take differing amounts of time to take effect and also to be treated.

Support services for mental health problems in Dorset are stretched to the limits with some people waiting months to receive essential help with their difficulties. Shore Medical have decided to join up with Dorset Mind to trial a new type of support for patients when they show signs of mild to moderate mental health problems.

Who are Shore Medical?

Shore Medical are a GP Super Partnership, who offer a range of primary care services to patients across Poole and West Bournemouth. They have five Surgeries across the area; Heatherview Medical Centre, Lilliput Surgery, Parkstone Tower Practice, Poole Road Medical Centre and Wessex Road Surgery. These services merged together on 1 April 2019 with the intent to improve the care they offer as a group.

What is this new trial?

The new free service is called ‘Active Monitoring’, it is a six-week programme of support developed and tested by Mind. It is designed to help people at an early stage of their difficulties, and to guide them through self-support. It is available to patients over the age of 16 registered with Shore Medical.

Active Monitoring is available soon after people raise their concerns with their doctor. This will mean that with no waiting time patients are likely to get better much more quickly. Additionally, people will be less likely to develop serious difficulties or need more intensive and expensive mental health services later.

The Active Monitoring Practitioner is part of the surgery team and meets with patients who are referred by the GP or Nurse. The Practitioner will identify how best to work together using a series of workbooks and other resources after an initial 15-minute meeting with the patient.

These tools are designed to guide the patient through their recovery. They will teach them how to take the right actions in order to maximise their mental health and wellbeing. The programme is best suited to people who are experiencing depression, grief, loss, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger and stress.

Why is it being brought to Dorset?

This new service is coming to the Dorset area after being tested elsewhere in the country and receiving excellent results. The trial is designed to work alongside treatments like medication and counselling, not instead of.  

Dorset Mind believes that the people of Dorset should receive mental health support at the time that they need it. They are working to remove the barriers to people receiving the support they need. They hope to do this by providing information and guidance and getting rid of long waiting times. The charity want to make Active Monitoring available in every GP practice across the county. 

Marianne Storey, CEO of Dorset Mind said: “We are taking significant steps to broaden the reach of our work across Dorset, to better support the mental health of our community.

“With the help of the Dorset community, Dorset Mind can work together with NHS services and enable them to continue delivering their vital specialist mental and physical health support whilst offering something different but complementary.”


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