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New Partnership to Trailblaze Approach to Mental Health and Substance Use

Posted on Thursday 1st June 2023
Julia Jessel newsroom smiling

Julia Jessel

A new initiative to support people with both mental health issues and drug and alcohol use is being pioneered in Staffordshire.

Thought to be the first of its kind in the country, the new ICoN (Integrated Co-occurring Needs pathway), will bring together local authority, NHS, voluntary and community sectors in a single approach.

Funded by Staffordshire County Council and the NHS, ICoN has been formed between Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT), and Humankind to support people in the county.

Julia Jessel, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Care, said:

Mental health issues and drug or alcohol use often come hand in hand and there needs to be more focus on addressing the root cause of problems.

This new approach will see the focus shift to shaping their life goals, while still helping people and their wider friends and family to support them.”

Dr Ross Crowther-Green, Lead for Mental Health Psychological Services for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Care Group at MPFT said:

I believe the team integration of substance use and mental health workers will be a game changer in helping to meet the holistic needs of people more effectively and efficiently.

With these changes in service design and all of the passionate and talented staff who work directly and indirectly to support the ICoN pathway, I feel positive that we will see significant improvements in the outcomes for the people who use our services.”

Emma Cormack, Service Manager from Humankind said:

I feel extremely privileged to be a part of building a pathway that ensures individuals don’t fall through gaps between services and can in fact make positive life changes with the correct integrated support and specialist interventions.”

I believe every person has the right to receive holistic support from services which are delivered with compassion, empathy, and free from any judgment, ICoN will deliver this.”

This pathway has a dedicated team of professionals including, psychologists, mental health practitioners, and substance use coordinators. This team will use phases of intervention to offer the right support, to the right people, at the right time.

The ICoN pathway will support people for at least six months, coordinating any transitions into local services whilst offering a follow-up review to provide an opportunity to reflect on progress and any challenges.

The service is viewed as a model of best practice, directly responding to issues with current drug and alcohol treatment provision outlined by Dame Carol Black’s landmark independent review of drugs and the Government’s subsequent 10-year drugs plan.

This plan stated: “There are high levels of physical and mental health need, without sufficient focus on drugs and alcohol within NHS and mental health services or within the workforce, and links with drug treatment are far too weak.”

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