The assets of individuals

Many times in trying to solve a problem, we start with a ‘needs assessment’. This will generally identify the problem that exists and will set about a way to finding a route for which to meet the identified needs. Using this approach means that there is a tendency to focus on the shortcomings of individuals, since it identifies the problems before the strengths.

A needs focus can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed, resigned, hopeless. Focusing on the positive – on people’s strengths can allow us to feel energised and hopeful, even.

Over the course of the project we’ve been speaking to people who have experienced mental health problems on a 1-1* basis – asking them what exisits in their lives that helps their well-being. We did this because we wanted to help them to map the assets that they had within themselves, and within their networks that might help them to keep well.

We did this using many of the same techniques described in previous posts for community asset mapping – but with a definite focus on the individual, their likes and dislikes, their friends and family and their situation overall. This links very much into the Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) idea of creating a ‘wellness toolkit’.

I was quite weary of undertaking these exercises at first, because I was worried that people might not be able to see the positive things that they had in their life, and that going through the process might be upsetting. I was wrong.

Having conducted 10 of these discussions with a range of different people, the view is that people found it overwhelmingly positive. There was nothing new to the types of conversations that the practitioner and I were having with them, but mapping things out in a visual way that could be recorded and considered had some really encouraging effects.

Practitioners were able to tackle problems that they’d been discussing for quite some time in a new way and were able to identify factors/issues that they could work on with the individuals quite readily. Service users noted that the process was useful in really thinking about what is important and recording it so that it could be reflected upon at a later date when they were feeling less well (or indeed more well). They were also clear that the visual aspect of it was really good – to be able to literally see what they have (and how much they have) was really powerful.

Here are some examples of the maps we created (highlighting the different methods that we used):

 

Reflections

This type of planning won’t be suitable for everyone, all of the time. For the use of the tool/process to be effective, it will need to be done when the person is feeling well.
What worked best was when there was a good relationship with the practitioner and the service user – it meant that people really thought through the process, rather than coming up with superficial answers.

It also worked well when we tried out these approaches in a group – people were able to spark ideas off of one another and to think about different areas of their lives by being prompted by their peers. Some people were quite overwhelmed by the experience, though, and it is important to ensure that people are comfortable and made aware of what the activity is and how it can help them.

All thoughts welcome.

*1-1 basis isn’t strictly true, because many of the discussions we had for the project were helpfully facilitated by trained practitioners. Many thanks to the staff who helped facilitate these discussions!

Making a community map

So, we’ve been a bit quiet on here over the past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve not been busy.

We’ve been working on mapping out all of the different assets identified in the workshops and collating them together in one place.

We’re using the data collected to turn this:

into this

Not only that, we are thinking about how these different assets should be grouped together so that they are easier for people to find, as well as considering different ways that we might want to present them.

More examples to come soon.

We’ve been really lucky in that Peter from ALISS has been present at all of the workshops. He’s working on a different project that helps people access local information about self management. He is doing this by creating an ‘engine’ which helpfully gathers and organizes information in a coherent way and then points people back to the original source of information. This usefully reduces the amount of time and energy that we need to use to populate maps like these. Have a look at their blog post about putting kirkintilloch on the map for more information.

Workshop 3: 4th August

The third and final workshop in the series focused on bringing together the ideas from the previous sessions, firming up the assets that we felt were important to map, and considering how we might (as individuals and organisations) use them better.

Who was there?

Because we were keen to work slightly differently at this workshop, we brought together a smaller number than the previous two sessions. This was important as we were keen to help people map their personal assets, which could be considered quite difficult to do in a large group. This meant that there was 10 people at the workshop (5 people who use services, and 5 who support people who use services).

What did we do?

1. What does well-being mean to me?

We worked together in two groups of seven people (including facilitators) to think about how we feel when we are well, and the types of things that we do to help us continue to feel this way. We wanted to capture this at the beginning of the session so that we could refer back to this when completing the other activities. We were keen to encourage people to be aspirational when completing their well-being statement.

Some of the statements looked like this:

The majority of people talked about ‘feeling good inside’, as well as feeling a sense of ‘calm’ or ‘relaxation’. It was interesting that many people talked about knowing themselves well enough to judge when they would need to take action to keep themselves feeling well, and when they did not.

The types of activities that people talked about doing to keep well were similar to those that had been discussed in previous weeks and centred around:

  • connecting with others
  • keeping busy, and having structure to your day
  • feeling motivated was really important for both groups – knowing how to get motivated and what works for your was incredibly important
  • knowing what services were available, knowing how to use them, when and how you could be referred was also talked about as being vital
This activity worked well as a good ice-breaker, unearthing a lot of commonalities within the group and providing talking points. It got people talking about themselves – something that can be quite difficult to do in groups.

2. Review of the map and generating ‘tags’

We worked together at this stage to review the community map so far and to think about what assets might be missing. It is amazing that whenever we bring together new groups of people to do this exercise the amount of new information that we learn and share!

Some of the new assets we mapped included:

  • lots of walking routes
  • german bakery
  • 10 pin bowling
  • rape crisis drop in centre
  • live active exercise referral programme
  • community education centres
  • kelvin valley walkers
In general, the groups were pleased with the range of support services that were covered on the map, but wanted to understand more about how to access them.
We were interested in gathering feedback on the types of categories that many of the services and supports may sit under, and used luggage labels as ‘tags’ for people to write and draw their ideas on.
on.
“Searching” and “tagging” were difficult concepts for the participants to get their head around. Some of the ideas that we came up with included:
  • categorizing supports in terms of the way you might feel when you have used them, e.g. ‘relaxation’, ‘confidence’, ‘motivation’ etc.
  • we should have general tags like ‘exercise’ with the ability to choose from a range of options that follow.
  • people thought that how to access services should be tagged – including things like ‘self referral’, ‘open to anyone’, ‘call or apply online’, ‘GP referral only’ etc.
  • people also came up with a range of specific tag words to be used for the individual services.
One of the interesting things was the recognition from the groups that the map would need to work on a number of different levels. It would need to:
  1. Encourage people who know that they need support, and consider what works best for them to try out new things.
  2. Help people who don’t know where to go, or explain how to get started on the road to better mental health and well-being
  3. Be of use to those who need the most support – with helpful phone-lines and ways to get in touch with people immediately.
In addition, there was some discussion around the ‘help yourself’ guide produced by Ceartas for dementia and whether or not something like this could be produced for mental health.

3. Developing my community map

For the next activity we asked people to work in pairs to consider their own personal assets. We asked people to draw or write a map of all of the different affiliations or communities of people they belong to (including moral support, access, resources etc.) that they thought were useful for their well-being. We broke this down into three categories that are most important to them:

  1. People
  2. Places
  3. Activities

The maps looked a little bit like this:

We then asked people:

  1. What they noticed about their community map.
  2. If they’d learned anything that surprised them, or if they’d gained any insights.
  3. What was missing, and what would support them to use the assets in the community map (big map of Kirkintilloch) better.
This was an excellent exercise for people to do as working in pairs, people were able to spark off different ideas off one another and build their maps together. When we asked about what surprised people, the following comments were made:
 made:
“It makes me feel very lucky”
“It reminds me of what I have”
“I’m surprised at how much I have very close to me”
“It made me see the progress I’ve made”
“Its been great to get a chance to think about me, just me”
 made:
People thought that they would be able to use these personal maps in a variety of ways, from doing the exercise again in 4-6 months time so that you could see if anything had changed, using the maps to think about any gaps that they have in their lives (and thinking about what might help address these gaps), and using the maps to see how far they have come.
come.
When asked about what would help people to use the community supports indicated in the large community map better, participants talked about simply knowing what was out there, and how to access it. Some participants talked about needing some support to try things out for the first time – be that from a support worker, a family member or a friend.
We were very careful to show some examples of what these maps could look like before beginning the exercise in order to reassure participants that it would be ok to not have very much on the map. We were also keen to be sensitive to the fact that people may not have wanted to discuss their personal assets, and were planning to use the hypothetical examples in order to get around this.

In reality, every participant in the group was happy to complete their map. Moreover, they all commented, in one way or another, what a positive experience undertaking the activity had been for them.

4. Visualising data

In the last session after lunch, we talked about different ways of presenting the data and information we’ve been collecting over the past month. Participants were given a range of different examples of other online visualised maps from across the world.

We were asked people what was useful and not so useful about these different types of visualisations and what they felt would make them better for the purposes of this locality and in their area.

Some of the ideas that people came up with for the map included:

  • focusing on personal stories of people with lived experience of using services in the area – through quotes or real stories
  • making sure that there is a physical or printed copy that people have as well as an online version
  • there was excitement for using a range of different categories to cover the different services
  • a way to communicate different events (and the locations of those events) – like a prepared diary/calendar
  • a way for organisations to communicate with one another
We were keen to ask people who should be able to upload or update data/resources on the map. The group thought that there should be a representative from each of the specified organisations that would update their own information. There were some reservations about ‘just anyone’ being able to upload information and as such the majority of people thought it should be moderated in some way. Mostly, I think this was due to understanding what community populated websites are like and the type of input that would be involved.
We had a lively discussion at the end about how best to categorise the difference between community and traditional support services, which was similar to the discussion that took place earlier in one of the groups. We thought that a useful way around this would be appropriate tagging – but that some versions of these tags should be circulated around the organisations and posted in the blog to make sure that we get them right.

Reflections

This session was focused on bringing the community elements that we’ve been mapping back down to focus on individuals, and working with people to understand how they could use community supports more. We also wanted people to understand more about the outputs of the project and to have their say in its development and to have them consider how they could potentially use it.

The focus of the project has been on understanding whether or not an asset based approach could be applied to the field of mental health and how its use could reveal existing capacities within the community and in individuals.

I’ve been reflecting on the last session and I think its success was based on looking at people’s personal assets. It was incredibly powerful to see and hear people appreciating and being astounded at all of the different valuable things that they have in their lives and considering the steps that they could take to both strengthen what is there already as well as develop new networks and ties. It was an exceptionally rich process which created a lot of discussion.

This has a lot in common with the recovery based approaches that the service providers in the area are using to help people with mental health problems take control over their journey towards wellness. What we’ve hopefully achieved through this process, is to consider more creatively how providers can work together with people using services to consider how they understand themselves, their well-being and the support and services that might help them in the process of recovery.

I think the process that we’ve gone through over the past three weeks links quite neatly into much of the wellness and recovery action planning (WRAP) work that is already going on in a variety of different ways in the area. Hopefully the process, as well as being useful for the people who use services, has also given practitioners some more tools for their toolbox.

Perhaps the most thought provoking of all was that people recognised that their lives were quite full and that they hadn’t realised or recognised it for a while. The process has shone a light on the value of making things visual and working in 3D.

What’s next?

I’d just like to thank all of the people who have given their time, engery, ideas and enthusiasm by coming along to the workshops and sharing their experiences and knowledge. Truely, the project would not have been possible without you. I hope you are pleased with the end result!

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be working to qualitatively thematize the outputs from the four sessions. This will culminate in:

  • A final report with recommendations and reflections for the local authority to consider
  • A document that outlines the project process, including step-by-step guides and reflections on what went well, and what did not go so well
  • A couple of visualised examples of what the final project output could look like for key stakeholders to consider, develop and agree upon.
Keep watching this space for the first few glimpses of what the outputs might look like – we’d be very happy to get your views and reflections.
More to come soon.

Mental Health Network

The Mental Health Network (Greater Glasgow) is a service user led organisation that gathers the experiences and opinions of people that have used Mental Health services in the greater Glasgow area – this includes East Dunbartonshire.

You can join by completing a membership form.

For more information, contact Moira Gillespie on 0141 550 8417 or visit the Mental Health Network website.

Workshop 2: 25th July

Our second workshop took place on the 25th July –  a bright and sunny Monday – in Kirkintilloch Health and Care Centre.

It was great to see so many people at the workshop – some familiar faces, and lots of new ones too. In the end, we had 22 people coming along to share their experiences and ideas (this was a split of 13 people who use services and 10 people who support those who use services) which was a fabulous turnout – even if it was a bit of a tight squeeze!

What we did

This week, we worked on tasks that encouraged people to share their experiences and that enabled us to gather ideas about how people could be better supported to use community supports and assets.

We started by getting to know each other. There were lots of new faces in the group and it was good to find out a bit about where everyone was from and what their interests were.

We then split into two groups and worked on answering the question: ‘if someone new to the area was to ask you advice for keeping well, what 5 things would you tell them?’

One group looked at this in quite a general way and were able to give lots of practical advice that included:

  • taking things a step at a time. the group agreed that it can be sometimes difficult to think about doing simple things, like taking a shower. The advice was to take it step by step and think about smaller aspects of the activity – like taking the first step out of bed, opening the door etc.
  • trying to keep active – going for walks and knowing good places to get out and about can be really helpful
  • knowing that you’re ‘not the only one’ can help, and knowing that everyone needs support sometimes
  • keeping focused on one task or goal for each day – and getting it done – can feel like a great achievement
  • reminding yourself of all of the things that you’ve achieved that day and focusing on those things rather than what you haven’t achieved can boost feeling well
The other group came up with suggestions like:
  • knowing where to start – having someone or something to point you in the (next) best direction on your journey is very beneficial (signposts to what is available)
  • having someone to talk to – ‘i use them as a sounding board, a mirror. I like to have the same people to contact to go back to time and again’ (people you can rely on)
  • find a place to go and chill out – where you can get peace and quiet (this group were able to identify lots of places on the map that would be useful for this)
  • do the little things that matter e.g. one person was very keen to keep their house tidy and as long as that was done she felt a sense of achievement. Find out what your ‘thing’ is.
  • having chance meetings – you might think that you want to be alone, but you might actually enjoy bumping into people. There are lots of cafes in Kirkintilloch that make wee 5 min chats with people easy – you can just pass pleasantries and you don’t have to plan the meeting (so you don’t need to cancel if you’re having a bad day).
We talked about how we could share this information with people and how we could make something physical that would convey some of these ideas. The groups came up with a few ideas that people seemed really keen on:
  • prompt cards: small cards (that you can keep in your wallet) with words and phrases by people with lived experience of mental ill health for those currently experiencing it
  • paper maps of the area that identify key services

We then went on to build on top of the maps that we’d produced in the first workshop.

The groups were keen to add additional services outside of Kirkintilloch – stretching out to Bishopbriggs, Milngavie, and Bearsden. Many people highlighted the poor transport links between these different towns and how this can make access to services incredibly difficult.

Other assets that had not been previously identified included:

  • public partnership forum – have your voice heard
  • local carers centres
  • aromatherapy (through EDAMH) – helps relaxation
  • contact point – at the park centre, useful resource
  • different walking routes
  • the Kirkintilloch players (theatre company)
  • community addictions team
  • EDICT – painting is  brilliant!
  • Carer’s Link – a rich source of support
  • Denise’s cafe – friendly staff and good for bumping into people
  • Kirkintilloch Herald
  • The badminton group
(we’ll have a few examples of maps available in a future post – very soon)

The groups also highlighted areas for improvement, including things that were missing within the community.

One of the groups talked in depth about assessment of need and the type and amount of information that is held about people using mental health services. Many people were aware of WRAP (Wellness and Recovery Action Planning) but not many had completed one. The group were quite clear that making a plan, and being assessed should not be a tick-box exercise and that it should be based on the individual and should be made to suit individual needs. The group also talked about how making advance statements was a useful thing to do, but not many had completed these either.

Many people highlighted the lack of social day activities within the area. People referred to the old Clubhouse and were clear that some of the functions that it had provided were really useful (see previous post). A few people talked about how there were many open spaces available and that an affordable cinema could be a good place to go and meet people, and that they could be used for big events like ‘ mental health awareness week’ or ‘gala day’ etc.

Community assets: think of a heavenly experience…

We asked the groups to work on creating a storyboard of the different areas that could improve and how the experience could be better – we did this from two different perspectives

  • Heaven: no barriers or hurdles/success and
  • Hell: barriers, hurdles and complications

People tended to draw on their own experiences of services or to focus on the different types of social activities that they perceived are missing within the community. The ideas focused on:

  • Being listened to more: people being allowed more time to talk and explain themselves, and to be seen as an individual.
  • Communication between the supporting services (health and community care professionals) and carers
  • Having a place to go where people understand you – where you can choose to talk about issues, or not – depending on how you are feeling
  • A drop in centre that is inclusive, allowing people access to a range of different services – like a hub

What should we do with all this information?

A key aspect of the project is to ensure that what we are learning is shared with others and is used to help improve existing service delivery. In addition, we want to ensure that the learning is used by people who use services – so that they can better see what is available and better direct their own support.

We were keen to ask the groups their views on how the outputs of the project should be shared.

Almost all of the participants thought that it would be crucial to share the project findings amongst the mental health service providers in the area. This was part of a broader discussion that highlighted that more could be done to ensure these agencies communicate better with one another – especially linking health, social work and voluntary agencies together.

Key, was also ensuring that the information was easy to access and always kept up to date – there has been some trouble with this in the past.  In addition, people were keen that as well as online based information, that there be a physical counterpart that people can keep with them to refer to.

Reflections…

We learned a lot from the last workshop and made sure that there were plenty of breaks – to keep ourselves refreshed and alert, as well as making sure there were lots of different ways for people to have their say. Ways to provide feedback ranged from speaking out into the group, posting thoughts and comments in the post box anonymously, as well as being provided with email, phone and contact information for people who prefer to reflect on their experience and to share afterwards.

The evaluation sheets were overwhelmingly positive from the day. Everyone who provided a completed sheet mentioned how much they had enjoyed the session with the following comments being made:

‘very interesting and thought provoking look at services and what helps people stay well’

‘the ‘holistic approach’ to what you were doing was really good – not just focused on services, but taking the whole aspect of folks lives into account’

‘enjoyed the contact with people with similar lived life experiences’

‘enjoyed the information sharing and mapping all the positives in the east dun area’

‘I’ve left feeling like I could do some research into what’s available and what would benefit my situation’

 ‘I felt really good getting feedback from the group and meeting other service users’

The next session will focus on different ways to share and portray the information that has been accumulated over the past few sessions. We expect to gather insights into the sorts of things that people think should be mapped for our online visualisation. In addition, we’ll be helping individuals to think about how they could use assets outlined in the community map to help promote their personal well-being.

I’m also learning lots about how the asset mapping process can be a useful tool for engagement with people – particularly how it can provide an opportunity for people to take a step back, think about what works well and why (and what does not) and consider how we can work with each other differently to change for the better.

This seems to be one of the things that people seem to be valuing most about being involved in the project. It seems to be getting more and more difficult for people to take the space and time to listen to one another and really hear what is being said – both practitioners and people who use services have commented on the value of hearing peoples stories and coming together to think about how things might change.

And there is more to come!

As always, any comments are very welcome.

Workshop 1: 18th July

Monday’s asset mapping session brought together people using services and practitioners, to collect and collate local knowledge in and around Kirkintilloch, on the subject of well-being and positive mental health. We were really keen to ensure that the workshop brought together a range of people on an equal footing so that they could share and learn from one another.

We had a great turnout with 7 people who use services and 8 practitioners from services such as health improvement, peer support, occupational therapy, social work, the Richmond Fellowship, Ceartas (Advocacy), Connections and Carer’s Link coming along.

What we did

The session lasted for 4 hours (with lunch). We split into 2 groups and thought about the little things that we all do everyday that help to keep us well.

The types of activities that people identified included:

  • having contact with groups of friends and a support network
  • cycling in good weather (including keeping yourself organised for this and getting everything packed)
  • dog walking (for someone to talk to, who doesn’t answer back)
  • walking by the canal and expanding your routes
  • setting up breakfast dishes the night before – so that the day is easy to step into
  • going to the gym (helps with energy levels)
  • running (with people) – good for you, but you might feel the benefit more afterwards
  • having some music playing to gradually get you into the swing of things in the morning (a soundtrack to your activity levels)
  • having a local, regular place to go to meet people who are going through similar experiences
  • gardening and looking at flowers – can be really therapeutic to take some time to yourself (in the summer).
We shared this with each other and thought about any similarities and differences.
We were able to pick out different themes from the range of activities people talked about. These were:
  • social – having contact with others
  • physical – keeping busy by doing things
  • senses – thinking outside of yourself and being aware of how things look, sound, smell etc.
Mapping community assets
another
We all then looked at a range of different objects, photographs and leaflets that represented current service provision locally.
We identified the assets in the community that could be useful to encourage positive mental well-being. Some of these included:
  • Seagull Trust barges (and the canal) – feels like you’re in another world!
  • Church – good place to meet people and have some space to think
  • Citizens advice – very professional service
  • Ceartas – lots of positivity around this service
  • Charity shops – places where its easy to talk to others, great for volunteering
  • Food co-op – highly visible, good produce and good place to see volunteering in action
  • Ghilloni’s – much love and admiration for this place
  • Kirkintilloch Health and Care Centre – good that it is all under one roof, but some things about it could be better.
We also thought about those that were not so positive.
  • transport – really difficult to get around east Dunbartonshire which makes it hard to get groups together. Dial-a-bus is also difficult to organise
  • out-of-hours services were not viewed favourably
  • planning meetings – it can be really difficult to get your voice heard, even though people do make an effort to make you feel welcome.
  • costs of services
  • there are not many day activities available – something that gives your day structure would be good
As a group, we shared our experiences of some of these services.
This helped us get a picture of what living in the local community is like for people and gave everyone an opportunity to discuss the assets that could be used more, and those that might need some improvements to be used more often.
We then considered how the personal things that we do every day to keep well could be supported by the assets we had identified in the community. This was quite difficult to do in the time available and due to the fact that people were very keen to talk more about their current experiences. This is something that we will focus more on in the next workshop.
another
Ideas
another
The afternoon session focused on developing ideas for the sorts of things that might help support positive mental health and well-being within the local area.
We focused on the following issues:
another
Meaningful engagement (planning meetings)
  • it may be necessary to have a pre-meeting to prepare
  • feedback the whole way through the process is vital
  • it should be open, honest and be true engagement
  • advertise meetings well, so that people know what to expect
  • ensure there are lots of ways for people to gather views i.e. through the post, online, in person, social media etc.
  • get rid of the jargon
  • use advocates to assist this process as much as possible.
More activities for older people
  • is over 60 the right bracket any more?
  • need to ensure people know how to access services
  • bus passes should continue
  • need to think about what is happening locally for older people (and how this links into national policies)
Central venue for meeting people
  • a central venue that people can access
  • gives people things to do, as well as developing skills and meeting others
  • a useful way to help people move on to other things
  • a community venue would be good
  • could charge a minimum amount to cover costs
Feedback for family carers
  • to have a meeting once a month to go over any problems which may arise (at the moment there is only one way to make enquiries, and it is often unavailable)
  • meetings could be advertised in local shops or libraries
  • a newsletter would be really good.
Support for those returning to work
One of the groups focused on this topic as a key issue throughout the workshop session.
  • very important to have continuity throughout the process – the same mentor and the same method of communication
  • softening of the environment so that you can take part in different types of conversations
  • one-to-one emotional support once a week is important
  • something to keep you occupied so that you are not worrying before an appointment
  • literature currently focused on absence, misconduct and discipline rather than health and well-being. It is important to ensure that the tone and language used in the paperwork is softened (as well as reducing the volume of correspondence!)
  • a back-to-work mentor is particularly useful for follow-up meetings and conversations.
What people thought of the workshop
At the end of the session, we handed out some evaluation forms to ask people what they thought of the workshop, and also to ask what we could do better next time.
Some of the things people found good about the session included: they felt safe and able to share, it was a relaxed atmosphere, they had been really inspired, it was good to get a chance to learn new tools for engagement, it was a good way to meet and share with other people and it was a good way to talk about some of the really good people and services, and to applaud them for the good work that they do.
do.
Some of the things that people did not think were so good about this session included: people would have liked to have more time for introductions (so they knew more about who was in the room), it could be difficult to raise an issue about a service when those providing the service were in the room, there were not enough breaks and that using the word ‘improvement’ implies that there is something wrong with what is currently being offered.
offered.
So, for the next session, we will make sure that there is an opportunity for people to feedback sensitive views in an anonymous way and will make more time for people to talk to one another and find out who everyone is (as well as move around a bit more!). We will also focus more on how the identified assets can be used to plug any gaps in service provision, rather than focusing on the services specifically.
specifically.
The next session will build on what we learned on Monday and we’ll think in greater detail about how we can encourage people to use the assets that we’ve identified in the community better.
another
Reflections
another
Some of my thoughts from the first workshop…
Many wider issues around service provision and engagement came to the fore at the first workshop, with people taking the opportunity to voice what has been concerning them most. What was really good about that, was having the chance to talk these through and to come up with some potential ideas that may resolve the issues. One of the aims of the project is to flatten any knowledge hierarchies so that the views and ideas that are expressed are considered as equally valuable. The ideas that we came up with will provide really useful recommendations for consideration.
consideration.
Having so much knowledge and experience in the room; be it experiential, service related or process related means that there are boundless opportunities to share and learn from one another. In itself, this is a huge asset, but it also brings with it some challenges around managing different perspectives and expectations about what can be done to promote well-being and positive mental health within the confines of this project.
project.
What is possible in the project, is to work together on how we can better use the positive assets identified and to consider how these can be shared with others who may not be involved in the project directly, so that they can use them too.
All comments welcome!

Let’s start at the beginning

This project is all about empowering people to think about all of the positive assets that they have in their lives and communities. It begins with the premise that, “you can’t know what you need, until you know what you have”.

In order to start finding out about what exists in the local area, the project work began mid-June with a workshop that aimed to introduce staff (mental health practitioners from the voluntary, private and public sectors) to asset mapping as a way of working.

Facilitated by SNOOK (http://wearesnook.com/snook/), we spent time with the staff to share experience and practice across the different agencies, as well as exploring how this way of working is different from the techniques that they currently use to design services around the people that they support.

We worked together to have a go at asset mapping in two different ways. Firstly, to create a community map:

Then to explore the use of asset mapping for person-centred planning (where we worked together to create a person-centred map for me!):

Many of the participants thought that the asset mapping method could work well alongside the approaches that they are already using, although they did come up with applications that we’d never thought of! Ideas ranged from using the process as a useful way to reflect on progress with people using services, to seeing the world directly through the eyes of the user.

There were lots of things that people liked about the use of the tool. These included:

  • working well as an individual recording tool
  • good for training staff
  • provided a new way to access thoughts and feelings (which can be hard when you are obsessed with thoughts and feelings)
  • helping to unstick people and staff
  • capturing the conversation
  • thinking about different routes to get to a solution.
Some things that people weren’t so sure of, included:
  • it might paint quite a stark picture for some people
  • the need to make sure that the person/people are in the right place in the recovery journey to engage in the process
  • it can generally be quite hard to get people involved
  • hard to identify assets.

Staff could see how the process linked into work that they already do, but thought that it was different in the following ways:

  • it’s 3D
  • very visual
  • bespoke (different every time, depending on who is involved)
  • holistic
  • inclusive
  • fun

This workshop and feedback was really useful in terms of designing the next few sessions, which will bring together people using services and practitioners.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be talking to lots of people who use services, gathering their thoughts, ideas and experiences in the lead up to these sessions, where we’ll work on mapping out the local area in greater detail. We’re hoping to be able to determine the difference between individual assets that people use to support themselves, and the assets that exist locally – with a view to identifying the gaps and opportunities that exist.

Watch this space!

You can view the full range of pictures from this first event here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/openlx/sets/72157626849988211/

Do you use mental health services in East Dunbartonshire?

Then we want to learn from your perspective, experience and voice.

We are interested in finding out about all of the available services, resources, facilities, people and opportunities within Kirkintilloch that can help people using mental health services keep well. We want to build a clear picture of these factors, and keep them accessible in one place, so that they can be shared with others who can learn from your experiences.

We would be delighted if you’d like to attend some of the workshops we are holding in July and August. More information here:

18th July     Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre                  10am-2pm

25th July     Kirkintilloch Health and Care Centre   10am-2pm

4th August   Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre                 10am-2pm

You might not have been involved in something like this before, but that’s ok! The workshops are really informal, they are places where you can speak your mind an talk with others who may have gone through similar experiences. They are designed to be creative, interactive and fun. We will be asking you questions which will focus on your opinion and your answers will not affect your service provision in any way.

If you would like more information, please contact Lisa Pattoni, Project Manager. You can book your space to attend by calling 07921037882 or by emailing lisa.pattoni@iriss.org.uk.

We look forward to seeing you there!