New self-management guidance launched to help people with long term mental health problems

16 August 2012

An estimated 500,000 people across Wales - around a sixth of the population - have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Today the Mental Health Foundation, in collaboration with Hafal and Bipolar UK, is launching a new self-management booklet, Take Control, to ensure people with serious mental health problems are able to take more control of their lives.

The guide is a product of the highly successful self-management courses which ran throughout Wales and supports participants in setting goals for themselves and using their Care and Treatment Plan to achieve them. To date over 600 people with a long-term mental health diagnosis have been trained to utilise key skills and tools to look after themselves and help others.

David Crepaz-Keay, Head of Empowerment and Social Inclusion at the Mental Health Foundation, said:

€œSelf-management is so important in empowering individuals to regain initiative, take control of their lives and put themselves back in the driving seat. An individual's mental health is a result of so many contributing factors and a holistic approach is vital in order to optimise and sustain recovery.

The guide includes Terry Davies's experience, a passionate advocate of self-management, and his story sets an example for many others. It also explores the journeys of seven people who have undertaken the self-management courses in Wales, and offers an innovative approach to reaching goals and tackling obstacles encountered along the way.

The guide is based on the key eight life areas found in Wales' Care and Treatment Plans, which include: accommodation, education and training, finance and money, medical and other forms of treatment, parenting or caring relationships, personal care and physical wellbeing, social, cultural or spiritual and work and occupation. These form a vital aspect of Wales' pioneering new Mental Health Measure which makes holistic care planning a statutory requirement.

Terry Davies says:

€œHaving a long term mental health diagnosis is challenging enough without the added pressures of everyday life.

Learning self-management was a revelation to me. It taught me to recognise the triggers and early warning signs that might precede an episode of illness, and what action to take in order to stop it in its tracks. I am now able to work, maintain and enjoy a healthy marriage with my wife and be a good father to my three children.

€œMy only regret about self-management is that I didn't discover it earlier. That is why I got involved with the Mental Health Foundation's self-management courses – to help other people take control of their mental health problems in a way that proved so life-changing to me.

€œI hope the personal experiences I have outlined in the Take Control booklet will offer other people with long term mental health problems even more support than was available to me, and will inspire them take control of their condition.

David Crepaz-Keay went on to say: "€œFor too long, the needs of those with long term mental health diagnosis have been inadequately supported."

"€œThe course has proven incredibly successful in helping people with a variety of diagnoses from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to personality disorder and long-term depression, to take control of their own illnesses. We hope that the booklet produced as a result of the course helps many more people with long term mental health problems achieve a better quality of life and take the lessons they learn to help and support others.

"€œIt is now, through Take Control, that we are reaching out to all people who experience severe mental ill-health across Wales who, like Terry, can benefit from our self-management tools and techniques."