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Talking to Matt Waters from the West London CCG

Quote by West London CCG Mental Health Delivery Manager Matt Waters

West London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for planning and buying health services for people registered with a GP in Kensington & Chelsea and Queens Park and Paddington. The organisation is made up of GP and health professional members.

The West London CCG not only commissions Community Living Well (CLW); they also work with CLW providers to ensure you have coordinated access to mental and physical health care and social wellbeing support.

We spoke to West London CCG’s Mental Health Delivery Manager, Matt Waters, who joined us last year in July, about his role and what is on the horizon for CLW and the CCG.

How did you get involved with CLW?

The opportunity came up and I was really interested as I felt that CLW promoted the ethos of integrated and collaborative approaches that I had previous experience of and wanted to develop further. I was especially keen to work in, and develop, NHS services because I feel it is a great institution that everyone in the UK should be proud of but we must also recognise that it can’t always do everything and be all things to everyone. To meet the needs of people in our local communities, it’s important to work with partners in the Voluntary Sector and Social care to develop holistic, wrap around services for service users and carers.

What does your role entail?

I’m responsible for managing the contracts and relationships with our Voluntary Sector partners who work within the Community Living Well network. I also look at the performance of the services and review the quality of what is delivered to ensure that the needs of the local communities are being met and considered whilst making sure that NHS resources and public money is being used appropriately and in the most effective way.

Have you always worked in the mental health sector?

I’ve worked in the mental health sector for a number of years now, both in inpatient settings and the community. I started my professional life as a Mental Health and Mental Capacity advocate in North West England. From there I worked in secure Forensic hospitals as well as general adult services as part of the respective psychology and medical teams. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing professionals and service users who I have learnt a lot from that I feel has benefitted my practice.

What do you hope to achieve during your time here?

I want to gain a better insight into what the communities we serve actually need and want. I am keen to build on the great work that has been done and further championing the voice of service users, carers and members of the public to ensure that we continue to develop and deliver the best quality services that we can.

What do you enjoy about working for CLW?

Working in CLW is a great opportunity to work with a variety of people and professionals in order to come together and ensure that we design and deliver the services that our local communities actually want and need. I like that all staff, service users, carers or members of the public are considered and given a voice to represent their views which can be a challenge but, ensures that CLW continues to evolve and we have to think about different and innovative ways of working.

What is on the horizon for CLW?

The main development for CLW in the immediate future is about how we can make sure that mental health services provided by both CLW and the Community Mental Health Teams can work together in a more joined up way to ensure that people get the support they need. This goes hand in hand with the setting up of what are called ‘Primary Care Networks’ (PCN). In line with the NHS’ long term plan, PCNs will pull together groups of GP practices in the area, covering populations of 30-50,000, who will work together to improve the health of their population.

CLW has already pioneered a more joined up approach to services but we are looking forward to working more closely with local GPs through the PCNs to further develop these pathways and to improve the experience of people accessing mental health services. We want to do this together with people from our local communities so please make sure to keep aware of any opportunities that are coming up to contribute to these developments or you can speak to your GP to find out more.

This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Find out more about the West London Clinical Commissioning Group. 

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 18th February 2020


Returning to work after sick leave

Two-thirds of us will have suffered from some form of mental illness at some point in our lives. It can be even more devastating when it forces us to take a lengthy absence from work. However, once we are on the right road to recovery, going back to work is often one of the most important factors in speeding up our return to full health. It provides us with a support network and is an opportunity to regain our sense of self-esteem and puts some routine and stability back into our lives. Here are some tips on how to transition seamlessly back into the workplace.

Stay in touch

If you can, keep in touch with a trusted colleague while you’re off sick, or when you’re about to return. They can keep you abreast of things like door codes changing, if the stationary cupboard has moved etc, that your manager might overlook, and can help you feel at home in the office. You can also arrange a ‘drop in to work’ before your return to say hello to colleagues and get re-familiarised.

Speak to your GP

Before returning to work, speak to your GP as they might have recommendations to make for your return to work, such as:

  • a phased return (not immediately returning to your full working hours or duties)
  • flexible hours
  • reasonable adjustments, such as recommending specialist equipment to help support you while you’re at work

Be honest

If you’re struggling, be honest! Let your employer or colleagues know if you need extra support. Please remember though that it’s up to you how much or how little you’d like to tell your colleagues about why you’ve been off work. Don’t feel pressured into sharing more than you feel comfortable with.

Prepare

There’s nothing worst than being late and feeling rushed on your first day back at work. If you can, lay out your outfit and items that you will need such as lunch, the night before. This will help ensure your morning goes as smoothly as possible. It could also leave you with extra time in the morning to allow for any unexpected delays or cancellations.

Looking for a job?

If you’ve had to leave your last job due to a mental illness and are now ready to return to work, here are some tips to help you with your job-seeking journey

Think ‘transferable’

Think about your transferable skills. Sometimes it might help to talk through the person specification for a job with a friend – you might be a better match for a role than you think! There are some skills which are invaluable regardless of the role, such as, time management, communication skills, the ability to work alone and as part of a team, and being able to prioritise tasks.

Ask questions during the interview

Although it can be tempting to ask about salary or promotion opportunities, the interview isn’t the best time to ask these questions. Instead, ask questions that will demonstrate a genuine interest in thse company, for example, ask the panel what they enjoy about working at the company.

Identifying gaps in your skills and experience

Do this by looking at the job descriptions and person specifications of roles you are interested in and see what areas you may need to work on. You could “fill in the gaps” by volunteering or completing a short course

Consider “flexible working”

More and more companies are offering “flexible working” and “working from home” as the way we work changes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what this really means, as it can differ greatly from company to company.

Network!

Sometimes it’s not about what you know but who you know. Make an effort to get to know people and attend events to keep updated of industry happenings to get your foot in the door.

This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Employment
Posted on: 11th February 2020


The Winter 2020 Magazine is now available!

CLW Winter 2020 magazine cover

A very warm welcome to the Winter 2020 edition of the Community Living Well magazine (and excitingly the first one of the year and decade).

As we navigate our way through the shorter, colder winter days, you may feel a dip in your mood. It’s normal for us to feel down in winter.  But if you find that it’s recurrent every winter, then you may have seasonal affective disorder. We have a special feature on seasonal affective disorder covering what it is, what the symptoms are and when to seek help.

We want you to remember that it’s okay to ask for help and support when you’re not okay. My hope is that when you finish reading this edition, you’re left feeling informed, uplifted, inspired and understood.

Plus…

From food and mood, sleep and anxiety to a focus on men’s mental health. The Winter 2020 edition is filled with content that aims to help you on your quest to improve your mental health and wellbeing. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet Matt Waters from the West London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) where he talks to us about the role the CCG plays in Community Living Well, his background and what’s on the horizon.

We want you to remember that it’s okay to ask for help and support when you’re not okay. My hope is that when you finish reading this edition, you’re left feeling informed, uplifted, inspired and understood.

As always, this magazine is about you – your thoughts, ideas, concerns and achievements. If you have any suggestions, features or stories you think we should include, please contact me, Michelle, on [email protected].

Community Living Well is a mental health service for those registered with a GP in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or the Queen’s Park and Paddington areas of Westminster. The services on offer include talking therapies, support groups, help with employment and support with debt, housing and benefits issues. Self-referrals can be made here. For more information please call 020 3317 4200.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 5th February 2020


February Peer Support Calendar

February Peer Support Calendar

Welcome to the February Peer Support Calendar!

We have a wide range of activities and groups on offer for our members. Highlights include a visit to the Cartoon Museum, Kew Gardens, Creative Writing Workshop and the launch of our new monthly Creative Peer Support Group.

We’re also pleased to offer a Living Well Workshop. ‘The Tree of the Life’ aims to allow people to reflect on their own own abilities, acknowledge hopes and talk about their experiences in a safe and empowering space. Using a narrative therapy approach, the sessions will be helpful for people who want to find new ways to share their story with others.

All our groups are underpinned by the Five Ways to Wellbeing: Active, Connect, Give, Learn and Notice.

Download the February Peer Support calendar here.

New Members

Are you new to Peer Support and looking for company this winter? Join a friendly Peer Support group and connect with like-minded individuals in an enriching and positive wellbeing environment.

If you are just starting to find your feet in the service, we understanding that joining new people at our groups can feel daunting. To help joining be less stressful and reduce your worries, we can offer you a one-to-one introductory meeting on a Monday Afternoon at the Community Hub at St. Peter’s Church, Kensington Park Road, W11 2PN.

Afterwards, you will also have the opportunity to experience our weekly hub. This Monday group is a place for laughter, music, companionship, light snacks and a warming cuppa. If having a slot with a Peer Support coordinator could help you to try out our service, please email us at [email protected].

We hope you enjoy our February Peer Support Calendar. To attend a Peer Support group or book a one-to-one introductory meeting you must be registered with Peer Support. To refer yourself please complete this quick online form or call 020 3317 4200.

Find out more about Peer Support.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Peer Support
Posted on: 29th January 2020


Overcoming obstacles with a long-term condition: Luca’s story

Man talking with his therapist

Coming to terms with a long-term condition can be challenging, particularly with managing symptoms and making changes to your day-to-day life. It can have a detrimental effect on your mental health, causing anxiety and depression. Luca who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) talks to us on how the service helped him re-focus his life and adopt a new mindset on the illness and build his confidence.

What led you to be referred to CLW Talking Therapies?

I had a difficult time in the summer; I was emotionally eating at home on my own, feeling sorry for myself and depressed and had no social life. Sleep wasn’t good, I was falling asleep early, waking up in the middle of the night, staying up, watching television, eating and then falling asleep again.

The COPD team referred me because I was having problems dealing with the oxygen I needed to take. I didn’t accept that I needed it, so they got a bit concerned. I caught a chest infection that took six weeks to clear up, and I thought ‘this is my life, struggling to go to the next room.’ I was aware that I needed to take the oxygen but emotionally I wasn’t accepting of it, I feared I would become reliant.

What long-term condition are you living with?

My main issue is COPD, lung emphysema. It’s a chronic condition and it’s not going to get better. I was diagnosed in 2010 and have been on oxygen therapy since July last year.  I also have a cervical problem that is beginning to affect the tips of my fingers, which is annoying as I was a guitarist. I can’t play sports and it takes time for me to get dressed. I lost a lot of self-confidence as my health has deteriorated because of the chest infection. I have to use the oxygen whenever I move.

What did your therapy focus on?

My therapist helped me to re-focus my life, rather than fearing death. I realised there’s no point in focusing on things that I can’t control; it will just drive me mad. We looked at what was going on for me emotionally but also at my values and where I wanted to go. I went to weight management which was important because putting on weight affects my breathing. The therapy rebooted me and I had a renaissance; I was attending talks, a philosophy class, walking every day, doing cooking classes and sleeping better now.

Did you have any difficulties or challenges?

Using the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach, my therapist was able to make me find tools I previously had. I didn’t always do the homework, but once the ball started rolling we were doing things on the whiteboard.  My therapist used it a lot to explore my thoughts and feelings about my illness.

How do you plan on keeping up your progress?

I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Exercise is good for my health, I meet people now, I talk philosophy, I cook every day and I’m mindful of what I put in my body.

Do you have any advice for others who are struggling?

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. There is no harm in admitting that we cannot do it all on our own. Whenever I asked for help I’ve received it.

If you are experiencing some of the issues mentioned…

You must be referred to our Talking Therapies if you’d like to access the service. Please fill out the form available here or call 020 3317 4200.

Learn more about Talking Therapies and how it can help you here.

This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 edition of the Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive inspirational stories of recovery straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 22nd January 2020


The Rise of Self-Help Platforms

Woman using self-help app on her phone

Technology is changing the way we live. From online courses and habit trackers to sleep advice and breathing exercises, there’s never been a better way to explore and embrace how tech can help our mental health.

In 2019, the App Store editors have named self-help the breakout trend of the year. The ever-growing list of options aims to give people fuss-free, accessible ways to focus on the self from the comfort of their own home.

Self-help involves the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.

Moments of self-help add value, energy, purpose, and creativity to everything we do. No matter how fancy or indulgent the term may sound, acts of self-hep are vital in our quest for a healthy, balanced and enjoyable life. Self-help apps can be a helpful way to bring emotional regulation to the forefront of your mind. They are also a great way to get more skilled at thinking, feeling and engaging with the world in a healthier and more productive way.

As self-help can mean different things to different people, the apps can focus on a range of activities including monitoring breathing and stress levels to meditation and mindfulness techniques – all of which can have an enormous impact on our functioning.

Below are some of the most popular apps available online:

Beat Panic

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes. Beat Panic is designed to guide you through a panic attack or raised anxiety using your phone.

Price – 99p

Be Mindful

An NHS recommended online course to help reduce stress and anxiety and open up life opportunities using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Price – £30 (One off Payment)

CALM

CALM provides daily challenges to deepen your mindfulness practise and learn more about yourself that include sleep advice, exclusive music to help you relax and focus as well as video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching.

Price – £7.99 a month or £29.99 a year

Catch It

Learn how to manage feelings like anxiety, depression and stress with this NHS recommended app. Catch It will teach you how to look at problems from a different viewpoint, deconstruct thoughts into associated behaviours and attitudes and overcome negative emotions.

Price – Free

Chill Panda

Chill Panda is an NHS recommended guided breathing app. In 5 minutes you can start to enjoy the deep relaxation and other health benefits of slower therapeutic breathing. These breathing techniques will help you relax more, worry less and feel better.

Price – Free

Cove

Create music to capture your mood and express how you feel with Cove. Instead of communicating through words, make music to reflect emotions like joy, sadness and anger. You can store your tunes in a journal or send them to a loved one and let the music do the talking for you.

Price – Free

Headspace

Relax with the help of Headspace‘s guided meditations and mindfulness techniques. Meditation has been shown to promote subtle improvements in focus, attention and the ability to ignore distractions.

Price – £7.99 a month or £29.99 a year

My Possible Self

This NHS-featured wellbeing app sets out a personalised self-help toolkit for your mental health. You can track how you feel every day with their Mood Tracker and highlight activities, places and people that influence your mood, so you can focus on the things that make you feel great and keep you well.

Price – Free

Strides Habit Tracker

The Strides Habit Tracker makes it easy to track the goals and habits you have been striving to incorporate into your life. After adding each of your individual goals and healthy habits, you’ll be able to see a daily checklist of tasks to keep you on target.

Price – Free

This story was originally published in the Summer 2019 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Self-Care
Posted on: 14th January 2020


Managing your money

Managing your money

Managing your money is an essential skill to learn to minimise debt, particularly whilst living in London. There are lots of reasons why managing your finances can prove difficult – especially if you have an underlying mental health condition.

We explore some of the reasons why debt can stack up and share some measures that can be put in place to prevent this from happening.

Income

You may have a low income which does not cover the costs of necessities associated with daily living. This may be because your benefits have altered or stopped, you have missed a payment or
not claimed all that you are entitled to. Having a low income puts you at greater risk
of getting into debt as it may mean you lack a safety net or emergency fund. If your income is low over a long period of time and you struggle to manage it, this can mean that debts accumulate.

Life changes

Losing your job, relationship breakdowns and bereavement are all major life changes that can have a significant impact on your ability to cope and manage money. At times like these, we can feel vulnerable to further hits and may resort to short-term and quick fixes such as applying for credit cards or taking out high interest rate loans. This only tackles the symptoms rather than the root cause of the debt which will continue to rise and increase our stress levels and  deteriorate our mental wellbeing.

Mental and Physical Wellbeing

Mental or physical illness may require you to take time off work in order to prioritise your health and recovery. During these periods away from employment, you won’t have as much disposable income but may end up spending more on prescriptions and travel to appointments.

Ignorance is not bliss

You may find it too overwhelming to budget, speak to your bank, calculate your monthly payments or pay your bills. This avoidance will lead to your debt continuing to grow.

One in three people regularly worry about money to the extent that it has a negative impact on their mental health. Debt can contribute to this as it can make you feel:

  • Out of control
  • Helpless, especially if debt continues to spiral
  • Embarrassed and isolated as you feel unable to talk about your financial problems. This feeling is often compounded by the double stigma around mental health and money, which may make it feel difficult for you to confide in others or seek help
  • Guilty due to the shame that can be attached to debt. This is especially the case if your sense of self-worth is connected to your ability to provide for yourself and your family.
  • Inferior and inadequate when you compare yourself to others
  • Stressed and anxious. Debt is often a major factor for those suffering from anxiety, and the two issues can feed into each other, creating a vicious cycle

There is help out there!

Don’t feel like you have to tackle managing your money alone. There are many services in London that can help you manage your money and debt. The Navigator Service at Community Living Well can support you through:

  • Signposting you to specialist services both online and in your area
  • Making referrals to different money management organisations
  • Supporting you to contact these services or speaking to them on your behalf

Start today

Seeking help is a great way to avoid a downward spiral in your health and wellbeing. However there are also changes you can make yourself. The first step to managing your money better is creating a budget. It will take a little effort, but it’s a great way to get a quick snapshot of the money you have coming in and going out. Take control of your finances by trying out our budget planner on page 18.

This story was originally published in the Summer 2019 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Navigator
Posted on: 7th January 2020


January Peer Support Calendar

January Peer Support Calendar

Welcome to the January Peer Support Calendar!

We have a wide range of activities and groups on offer for our members. Highlights include a visit to the Wellcome Collection, a Cars Exhibition at the V&A Museum and a meal out at Nandos. All our groups are underpinned by the Five Ways to Wellbeing: Active, Connect, Give, Learn and Notice.

Download the January Peer Support calendar.

New Members

Are you new to Peer Support and looking for company this winter? Join a friendly Peer Support group and connect with like-minded individuals in an enriching and positive wellbeing environment.

If you are just starting to find your feet in the service, we understanding that joining new people at our groups can feel daunting. To help joining be less stressful and reduce your worries, we can offer you a one-to-one introductory meeting on a Monday Afternoon at the Community Hub at St. Peter’s Church, Kensington Park Road, W11 2PN.

Afterwards, you will also have the opportunity to experience our weekly hub. This Monday group is a place for laughter, music, companionship, light snacks and a warming cuppa. If having a slot with a Peer Support coordinator could help you to try out our service, please email us at [email protected].

We hope you enjoy our January Peer Support Calendar. To attend a Peer Support group or book a one-to-one introductory meeting you must be registered with Peer Support. To refer yourself please complete this quick online form or call 020 3317 4200.

Find out more about Peer Support.

 

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Peer Support
Posted on: 30th December 2019


A Brave New World: How technology could transform mental health treatment

woman experiments with VR technology

Technology and mental health may initially appear at odds. The fast-paced, 24/7 lifestyle that has stemmed from an increasingly interconnected world has often been reported to add to our stress levels and hinder our happiness.

However, a pioneering wave of new research has started to capture how technological advancements may enhance mental health treatment in the UK. While digital can never replace the relationship between a person and a therapist, it may have a real role to play through additional help alongside traditional face-to-face therapy

While most of these technologies are not ready to be used yet and require more research, the following treatments are what could be on the horizon.

ClinTouch Mobile App

Great Manchester NHS Trust recently piloted a mobile app for people recovering from psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. ClinTouch asks users how they feel a few times a day, generating an alert if a relapse looks likely. As people typically only see a care co-ordinator once a month, the app has the potential to bridge some of the gaps in their care provision. The value of this additional support is significant, especially when symptoms of a relapse can appear within days.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality (VR) is an immersive experience that blocks out the physical world and transports the user into a digitally enhanced environment.

VR has been making waves as an effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress disorder for a while now. However, it is only in recent years that VR has been trialled as a potential vehicle to aid exposure therapy – when a person is exposed to anxiety inducing stimuli in a safe and controlled environment.

A new project that took place recently involved a computer-generated avatar guiding a user through cognitive treatment programme for fear of heights. The project randomised 100 people with a significant fear of heights to either their VR application or no treatment. Participants had lived with their fear for, on average 30 years. After four or five 30 minute VR sessions, their fear had reduced on average by two-thirds.

VR has also provided a useful environment to teach patients experiencing emotional distress how to restore an equilibrium in their mood. It is hoped that the patient will then be able to transfer these coping mechanisms into the physical world.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) blends the virtual and physical world through an overlay. AR allows the user to access additional information through AR glasses. Initial research suggests that this perceptually enriched experience may present an opportunity to provide realtime feedback to people in non-clinical environments as part of their therapy intervention. Personalised treatment is achieved through the customisation of the virtual world a patient will inhabit.

Modernising Monitoring

Many digital companies are exploring tech’s ability to improve mental health diagnoses. New programmes may be able to analyse:

  • a person’s voice
  • the language of written messages and the content of social media pages
  • how fast a person swipes on a mobile device.

 

Mental health diagnosis frameworks have historically relied on paper questionnaires and people’s memories, so it is hoped that this new form of technology could aid and improve the prediction and monitoring of mental health illnesses.

This story was originally published in the Autumn 2019 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Primary Care Liaison Nurses
Posted on: 18th December 2019


Support during the holidays

support over the holiday period

Christmas can be an exciting time of the year for many, but it can also be a challenging time, especially for those living with a mental health problem.

For those of you who might be struggling, or who are supporting someone who is struggling, we’ve put together a document with useful contacts over the holiday period. It also contains information on activities happening over the holiday period and where you can volunteer if you’d like to give back over the festive period.

To attend the Peer Support group you must be registered with Peer Support. To refer yourself please complete this quick online form or call 020 3317 4200.

Find out more about Peer Support.

Refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 16th December 2019