Portsmouth City Council case study-Community approaches to support mental wellbeing

  • Portfolio total project costs: £1,800,000
  • Total funding received from BIG: £1,500,602
  • Total number of beneficiaries: 11,522

The Chances4Change portfolio delivered a range of projects supporting mental wellbeing. This included projects designed to empower local people to become community champions. The portfolio reported particular success around the change indicator concerned with training champions or peer mentors to recognise the causes of mental distress and take action to minimise their own distress or that of others. The portfolio aimed to train 380 champions/ peer mentors by the end of the grant. This target was exceeded significantly, with 688 Champions having accessed Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) courses by the end of the grant. These courses trained champions to recognise causes of mental distress, take actions to minimise their distress and that of others and tackle stigma around mental health. The courses enabled participants to feel more confident when supporting others with issues and when discussing their own problems. (The portfolio achieved this target by 181%). The portfolio delivered 10 projects across its five hubs which included sessions designed to reduce stigma and improve mental health awareness and outcomes. Champions signposted individuals to local provision and provided information to community groups. This approach supported the personal development of Champions, who reported becoming more confident to handle issues and support others, as well as being able to notice signs of mental health problems in others and themselves (such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts).

Some portfolio activities were also designed to increase awareness around issues that can affect the broader mental wellbeing of local communities such as hate crime, honour-based violence, domestic violence, self-harm, suicides and scams. This was achieved through a variety of awareness sessions and emotional first aid. For example, the Mental Health & Domestic Abuse Awareness Training project in Slough trained professionals and local people in Mental Health Awareness (Mental Health First Aid Lite) and recruited and trained Mental Health Champions to reduce the stigma of mental illness. The project trained residents and workers to recognise the symptoms of mental health problems and domestic abuse and signpost local people to relevant services. The Slough project trained 35 Domestic Abuse Champions with 146 people participating in domestic abuse courses, and trained 157 MHFA Champions, with 318 people attending a MHFA lite course. The Champions were drawn from a wide range of local organisations including YMCA, Turning Point, Royal Berkshire Fire Service, Slough Volunteer Centre and Healthwatch. Many of these Champion Workers are using their knowledge gained through the courses within their everyday working life. The project also worked in partnership with Thames Valley Housing and Slough Youth Services, providing training for their clients.

In Southampton, the portfolio promoted mental wellbeing through a number of music and arts based projects, including Folk Dancing sessions. Participants in an Art Therapy project produced a quilt which was displayed in Southampton Central library. The project included an oral history element, encouraging participants to share their journeys to Southampton from their home nations. Feedback forms collected by the Southampton project reported a range of beneficiary outcomes around increased physical activity levels and mental wellbeing, including increased confidence, improved language skills, drama and dancing skills. Some participants also reported a reduction in isolation and raised self-esteem and confidence.

The Southampton project established links with the local Steps2Wellbeing service, to promote community based one-to-one and group counselling sessions. (The Steps2Wellbeing Service is a free, confidential NHS service for to people aged 18+ provided by Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. across the county of Dorset and in Southampton). The Steps2Welling service provided training for the local community in dealing with stress and anxiety. This increased local people’s knowledge of mental health issues and helped reduce stigma within the community around mental illness. The partnership was also viewed as enhancing service providers’ understanding of local people’s mental health concerns. The project successfully raised awareness and broke down barriers within the community around accessing mental health support services. The project noted a gradual increase in the take-up of counselling and advice by local people. The partnership with Steps2Wellbeing will continue post Chances4Change.

The portfolio’s end of grant monitoring form highlighted clear impacts on beneficiary outcomes through mental health activities. This was particularly clear in relation to the change indicator around enhancing people’s skills and confidence to prevent mental ill health and increase people’s resilience to cope with mental health issues by engaging people with mental health interventions. By the end of the portfolio, 6,306 beneficiaries (220% of the target) accessed activities designed to support their own mental wellbeing and reported feeling happier, more satisfied with their life, and part of the community. Participants reported feeling more confident and had a greater understanding/ knowledge of mental health and the stigma surrounding it. Participants also reported improvements in life satisfaction, happiness and engagement, and reductions in depression and loneliness. Participants reported feeling more capable to prevent/ cope with mental ill health as a result of engaging in portfolio interventions.

→Further details and references in the Wellbeing 2 evaluation