Contract awarded to transform adult mental health services in Somerset

A contract that will radically change mental health and emotional wellbeing services in Somerset – and provide a broader range of services – has today been awarded to a consortium led by Rethink Mental Illness Ltd in alliance with nine local partners.

Last year it was announced that Somerset will receive more than £13 million of funding over the next three years to transform adult mental health services, bring them closer to communities and provide quicker and easier access to services and support.

Today Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) awarded the contract, worth £1 million a year for three years, that will integrate support provided by the voluntary sector with services for mental and physical health and social care within local communities across the county.

The contract was awarded by Somerset CCG on behalf of the Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Partnership made up of the health and social care organisations in Somerset.

The new adult mental health services have been co-produced with patients with experience of current mental health services. Based on patients’ experience, the new services move away from an approach based on referrals and discharge and seek to provide support quickly. They will provide a much broader range of services to a wider range of people including those who have not been supported until now.

Andrew Keefe, Deputy Director of Mental Health and Learning Disability Commissioning, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are determined to address the previously unmet needs of people requiring support for their mental health and this supports the NHS Long Term Plan. We’re committed to realising the vision that people with mental health needs receive the same levels of support as those who have physical health needs, while also addressing the stigma that is sadly still all too often associated with mental health.”

The contract reinforces the importance of working in an integrated way in our local communities to provide a joined-up, seamless service for patients and their carers. This means that health, voluntary, and social care partners will work even more closely.”

Will Higham, Associate Director of Programme Innovation at Rethink Mental Illness said:

“The creation of this Alliance is recognition that effective mental health care should be linked to support in the community. It’s not just about what your GP can do; a lack of good housing, steady work, and stable finances can all have serious effects on your mental health, so it’s only right that we start to consider all of a person’s needs when they need treatment.

“This contract is the start of something genuinely innovative. It was created in response to feedback we received from our supporters, and it had the input of people with experience of mental health problems We are proud to be doing this in Somerset, where Rethink Mental Illness has such a long history.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to develop mental health care in Somerset, which may well set an example for change in other parts of the country. Each partner organisation is ready to share their expertise and I look forward to seeing what the Alliance can achieve in the coming years.”

Jane Yeandle, Service Director, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Patients with lived experience of our current mental health services told us how important it is to provide a range of support quickly, without a system of referrals, that give people access to the help and support they need. By removing some of the barriers that limit and slow down access to mental health support we will widen access to support and provide services quickly when they are needed most.”

Katherine Nolan, Chief Executive, Spark Somerset, said: “This is an exciting new way of working – where NHS services and local voluntary organisations will be working in partnership to ensure that residents of Somerset get the support they need, when they need it.

“We recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when supporting mental health. People need a range of support to help them on their path to recovery. This can range from specialist treatment around their condition to advice around finances, housing and employment, as well as support to build confidence and connect to activities in their community.

“There are already hundreds of community groups and local charities across Somerset that are providing much-needed mental health support every day. We’re committed to ensuring that grassroots organisations are fully supported so that they can continue to be part of the solution.”

Rethink Mental Illness Ltd will be the lead provider, working in a partnership with other organisations. The other organisations that will be delivering the service in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness Ltd are: Age UK, the Balsam Centre, Chard Watch CIC, Citizens Advice South Somerset, MIND, Second Step, Somewhere House, Spark Somerset and Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association (SWEDA).

Information about mental health support available in Somerset can be found by