Mental health service users are helping with Warwickshire transformation plan

The three-year programme will focus on adult eating disorders, individuals with a personality disorder diagnosis and community mental health rehabilitation

People with personal experience of adult mental health services across Warwickshire are playing their part in a three-year county council transformation plan.

Eleanor Cappell, of Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group, explained that the programme was being rolled out across the country with a special focus on adult eating disorders, individuals with a personality disorder diagnosis and community mental health rehabilitation.

She explained the links between physical and mental health and how it was important that services wrapped around individuals rather than patients having to fit strict criteria.

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Speaking at this week’s adult social care and health overview and scrutiny committee, she said: “One of the key things that we are doing is working alongside ‘experts by experience’.

“Claire Handy, who has been through crisis services and community mental health services, is on the board and leading much of the work. She is incredibly passionate, as are the other experts by experience we are working with, and she’s keen that they are at the heart of our decision-making process and making sure that when we do this redesign it will genuinely mean it is transformational and help individuals on their journey to recovery.”

Cllr Richard Baxter-Payne (Con, Attleborough) wondered how easy it had been to find the ‘experts’ - people willing to share their experiences.

He said: “From experience, I know how hard it is to open up when you go and see somebody and have a conversation. You are partly worried about what you are going to say to them and if you know that person understands how you feel then it is a lot easier to talk to them.”

Ms Cappell said that the Rethink and Grapevine organisations had built on some of the CCG’s groundwork, going on to build a rapport with the individual experts and understanding their stories.

She added: “This is one of the most exciting bits of this piece of work. We have worked hard to make sure it is a welcoming environment and that they are treated as equals. They have been brave and open in their journey and have really challenged the thinking and assumptions of the group.”