A new initiative to support people with both mental health and drug and alcohol issues has been welcomed by Dame Carol Black, who led a landmark national review on drugs.
Dame Carol visited Staffordshire to find out more about our new ICoN (Integrated Co-occurring Needs) initiative, which brings together local authority, NHS, voluntary and community sectors in a single approach.
She also commented on her hope that other areas would find out more about the Staffordshire initiative to see if elements could be replicated to help better meet local priorities.
Dame Carol Black said: “In my review presented to Government, I said it was essential that we looked at mental health when it comes to problems with substance use, so I think it is excellent that Staffordshire has linked this support together.
“I hope that other areas will now find out more about ICoN and think about how they could borrow it, follow it or perhaps adjust it to best meet the needs of their local communities and the people who need their support.”
Funded by Staffordshire County Council and the NHS, ICoN has been formed as a partnership between Humankind and Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) 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.
“We were delighted to get to share our new partnership with Dame Carol and look forward to the approach making so much more of an impact on the lives of Staffordshire residents.”
ICoN 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’s landmark independent review of drugs and the Government’s subsequent 10-year drugs plan.
Emma Cormack, Service Manager from Humankind, said: “We know from experience that the vast majority of people with substance use issues are also living with mental health challenges so our team will help make sure people don’t fall through gaps between services and can in fact make positive life changes with the correct integrated support and specialist interventions.”
Dr Nina Vass, Consultant Clinical Psychologist with MPFT said: “With a shared commitment to trauma-informed care, this new approach has brought together mental health and substance use treatment to help meet the needs of people more effectively and efficiently.”