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Our strategy 2019-2022

We will work with you to make a change.

The challenge

Every year, millions of us are affected by problems with mental health, drugs, alcohol, and self harm. Most of us know someone affected. One in six have personal experience.

We all have different experiences. Sometimes problems are long term. For others, it’s how we cope with traumatic events and life changes, like a bereavement or losing work. But if we leave these problems unchecked, they can grow, deepen and disrupt our lives.

We know what can help. We make progress when we connect with someone who has the time, skills and empathy to listen. Safe and structured conversations that set and review goals and develop new thinking techniques are scientifically proven to help us overcome addiction and reduce the risk of harm to ourselves and others.

Finding the right help can be the start of something new. But help is too hard to reach.

Not enough people are getting help

Only a fraction of people who experience problems with mental health, drugs or alcohol are in touch with services. Most people don’t know where to go to get help, or who to ask.

Last year, close to 12,000 people died due to issues directly attributed to drugs or alcohol - the highest rate on record.

It’s great that we’re all talking about mental health more, but it doesn’t feel like the help is there when you actually need it.

– Young person

Mainstream services were designed for a different era. There are lots of individual examples of great work, yet most services rely on physical locations and outreach, centred around office hours. They can feel unwelcoming and hard to reach, particularly for women, carers, young people and marginalised groups. There are few credible, free online services or trustworthy sources of help and advice.

It has to be bad. But if you can get them earlier, if you can get them to get help, you can save their life. But people don’t know where to go. They don’t know there’s anything out there.

– Adult

Be amazing if there was info out there that I could call up and trust.

– Young adult

22% of young people say they feel overwhelmed often or all of the time.

Not enough people are getting better

For people who are in treatment, the outcomes aren’t good enough. Much depends on where you live or the experience you have of the service. The chance of people getting better would be 25% higher if the average service was as good as the best.

One in 10 people in a hospital bed have serious problems with alcohol, and one in five are doing themselves harm by drinking.

It’s a big thing to take that decision to seek help. It’s hard to do, especially if you are feeling really low. And then when you commit to it, if they tell you there’s going to be a wait of weeks or months to see someone, you lose all motivation.

– Adult

Making the changes needed to get better can be very hard going, so regular support, expert care and motivation really matter. For years, people in frontline services have gone above and beyond to fill gaps and meet people’s needs. There’s lots of good work we need to keep hold of, but something needs to change.

Our goals for change

Over the past year, we’ve talked with staff, volunteers and the people who use or might use our services about what we do well, what’s not working and how we could be more ambitious in the future. We’re clear we need to do things differently.

We have set ourselves three goals for the next three years.

1. Radically improve people’s chance of getting better

If you have the courage to ask for help, you should have the best chance of getting well.

We want to improve people’s experience of using our services and the variety of help we offer. We’ll look hard at what we do and where we can be more human, giving people a say and a stake in their own care. We’ll use data to learn and change how we work, and support people to define their own goals and what they want to achieve with it. We’ll share what works openly and try to influence government and funders to do the same.

Some of the things we’ll do:

  • Grow communities and peer support networks that solve problems together
  • Reduce supervised consumption and get everyone on the right dose
  • Redesign how people start treatment and feel motivated to change
  • Give people using services the tools to direct and design their own care
  • Research and develop new clinical practice to increase evidence for what works
  • Advocate for changes in policy and delivery

Things we’re learning:

2. Help ten times more people

We have to think differently if we’re going to help everyone access the support they need.

We want to find new ways for people to get help, not add to already high caseloads. We’ll improve ways to reach us and help people build communities of their own. We’ll involve families and peer groups and create tools that people can use in their own time. We’ll put people in touch, make connections and offer opportunities to get involved. We’ll give a stronger voice and profile to experiences, and make sure we’re welcoming to everyone.

Some of the things we’ll do:

  • Develop new practical self-help advice and anonymous support
  • Design services that are open and welcoming to everyone
  • Create new digital ways of getting therapy and taking part in groups with peers
  • Help people connect with others and get involved in local communities
  • Grow our media profile and influence people who make decisions
  • Increase donations and encourage more people to get involved

Things we’re learning:

3. Transform our organisation to get the best from each other

To achieve change, we need to modernise and make it easier to work together.

We’re a big organisation with lots of people doing great work, but some jobs can feel lonely. We’ll provide better tools and platforms to help people join the dots, improve how we lead and support people to learn and develop. We’ll create new partnerships to work together on shared problems, try new things and learn together.

Some of the things we’ll do:

  • Make our data more accessible and useful
  • Support mobile, flexible working with modern technology
  • Develop content, tools and resources to help people do their jobs
  • Improve how we communicate and engage with teams
  • Diversify our income sources and build partnerships around shared challenges
  • Help people progress in their jobs and learn new skills

Things we’re learning:

Changing the conversation

You’ve helped me through a lot to become the person I am today.

– Adult

We know what helps people to connect with others and sustain a change. Sadly, the way many public services are designed can make this more difficult. Staff are often caught up with strict targets, poor technology and in structures set up to manage 20th century needs.

Over the next three years, we will try new things and challenge ourselves to think differently. We want to learn what it takes to design and deliver services that focus on relationships and fit with modern lives, and contribute to a broader, national conversation about the way public services and the welfare state need to change.

Our goals are deliberately stretching and ambitious. We don’t have all of the answers, and know we can’t make enough difference on our own. We will be open, share our thinking, and try to make it easy for others to copy, challenge and improve on what we do.

We’d love to work with you.