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Redesigned Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing service to be launched in September

A redesigned and improved service to help local people who have anxieties, stress or depression will be launched in September.

The new Wellbeing service will be available to people living across the whole of Norfolk and Waveney and will offer treatment to more people than has previously been possible, including those with the more serious of 'common mental health problems'.

An estimated 92,000 people in Norfolk and Waveney suffer from common mental health problems such as anxiety, stress and depression. More than 11,000 of those are helped by the existing Norfolk Wellbeing Service. However, a further 3,500 people whose problems are at the more serious end of the scale will be able to be treated when the new service is launched.

Incorporating much more social support, its overarching aim will be to help thousands of people in our communities return to a productive life. It will treat as many patients as early as possible within GP practices or community settings - in many cases helping them to avoid admission into a mental health unit by providing responsive local services near to where they live, before their problems become too great.

This is a shift away from 'secondary mental health care' to a 'primary' and community care focus, which is known to be better for patients and will help to ease pressure on busy mental health units.

It will be delivered through a partnership between the NHS and local voluntary organisations and will marry together the Wellbeing Services for Norfolk and Waveney.

The Wellbeing Service (replacing the existing, smaller Norfolk Wellbeing Service) has been commissioned by the five NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Norfolk and Waveney. It has been designed by patients, GPs, psychologists, charities, and supported by NHS managers, working together at every stage.

It will be provided by expert clinicians and therapists from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) working in partnership with the relationship counselling organisation, Relate, and three local branches of the mental health charity MIND.

Commissioning the new look service has been an example of patients, clinicians and managers working together, according to Dr Duncan Edwards from NHS South Norfolk CCG.

He said: "We have involved patients from the very beginning, listening to what they want. GPs and patients wanted local, accountable, faster and more access to  psychological therapy, with support tailored to the patient. The service also had to be able to provide swift assistance to those with severe depression and anxiety."

Nesta Reeve, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead from NSFT said: "Our Trust is delighted to be the lead provider of this service, working in partnership with these well-regarded organisations.

"The staff working in this service are excited about the innovative new service we have developed and are enthusiastic about taking the Wellbeing Service forward to help more people who need support."

Patients will be able to self-refer as well as be referred via their GP, and there will be more face to face counselling on offer, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), patient workshops, quicker access times and named clinicians aligned to every GP practice so that patients can be seen locally where possible.

Both Relate and MIND will be playing a major role in the new service as partners to NSFT.

Relate will offer relationship counselling to couples, individuals and families. MIND will also provide counselling, support groups and online / telephone advice services, including an out of hours support line for patients in the service.

A major new element of the service will be support with the social aspects of recovery, helping patients to put all aspects of their life straight from finances and housing, to tackling loneliness.  

Some of those who have used the service will be offered the opportunity to work as Peer Support Workers and there will be volunteer networks too. Many patients who have recovered are keen to 'put something back' according to Liz Farrow, General Manager of Relate in Norfolk and Suffolk, who chairs the Wellbeing partnership's Operational Board.

Liz said: "For us all this is exciting and a huge challenge. We have sat with Commissioners for more than a year to design services that we believe people need."

Amanda Hedley, Chief Executive Officer of MIND Norwich, said: "MIND is very pleased to be such a major part of such an innovative service – bringing together improved support to people for both their clinical and social needs."

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