Andy Kempster explains why Mind is part of the Making Every Adult Matter coalition.
Imagine not just experiencing a mental health problem, but also facing homelessness, family breakdown or drug addiction. For an estimated 60,000 people in Britain, this is everyday life. We all know that getting support for your mental health is difficult enough, but having to do this whilst dealing with other problems can be near impossible.
That is why Mind is a part of the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) Coalition, to help make sure people with multiple needs are supported properly and empowered to tackle their problems to reach their full potential. You can read more about the coalition and its work at www.meam.org.uk.
Part of my job at Mind is on a MEAM project called Voices from the Frontline. As the name suggests, this project ensures the voices of people with multiple needs, and those who support them, are at the heart of the policy debate.
This work is incredibly important. A new report by Heriot Watt University, funded by the LankellyChase Foundation, found that there is simply a lack of information about people with multiple needs, especially when it comes to mental health. Worryingly, this means that policymakers are only hearing half the story. Considering 32 percent of people with a mental health problem have experienced one or more of homelessness, substance misuse or offending, this is a big problem. As the report rightly points out “if we don’t know about it, then it is much harder to address”.
This is something the project Voices from the Frontline is trying to change. Over the past couple of months, colleagues from the charities Clinks, DrugScope, Homeless Link and I have been out visiting services, talking to people who face multiple needs, trying to find out what is going on. People told us that their experiences were seldom heard by policy makers, and that they felt left out of the big national conversations about services. You can read our report about this here.
Having met with people on the frontline and those facing multiple needs, I have learnt that as well as collecting better data, it is vitally important we listen to people. It is a complex issue that we have only just begun to understand. That is why over the next year we will be continuing to go out and talking to people, finding out what is going on. We want to encourage policy makers to take multiple needs more seriously, addressing issues together, rather than in isolation.
If you work for a service, have previously or currently do face multiple needs and want to get involved with our project or learn more about it, please give me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Kempster, Policy and Campaigns Officer