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Mind responds to StopSIM campaign updates

Friday, 31 March 2023 Mind

NHS England (NHSE) has spoken out against the controversial mental health monitoring system, Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM), stating that any practices associated with the scheme must no longer be used. The flagship scheme, which was expanded across the UK in 2017, places police into mental health teams to help manage ‘repeat callers’ of emergency services.

The decision was outlined in a letter sent to NHS mental health trusts across the country, which flagged specific practices including:

  • Police involvement in the delivery of therapeutic interventions in planned, non-emergency, community mental health care (this is not the same as saying all joint work with the police must stop).
  • The use of sanctions (criminal or otherwise), withholding care and otherwise punitive approaches, as clarified in National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance.
  • Discriminatory practices and attitudes towards patients who express self-harm behaviours, suicidality and/or those who are deemed ‘high intensity users’.

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Mind, said:

“Mind welcomes NHSE’s clear position on all practices related to SIM - this important achievement is testament to the campaigning of the Stop SIM Coalition. When we are at our most unwell, we deserve compassion and respect. No-one should feel like a criminal for struggling with their mental health, yet the SIM model too often punishes and criminalises people experiencing a mental health crisis. We urge NHSE to apologise for the hurt and trauma that this programme has caused.

“Going forward, NHSE should prioritise therapeutic, rights-respecting care models, and work with the Care Quality Commission to make sure these new expectations around SIM are enforced. The rolling back of SIM is a major milestone for the sector, and one step closer to truly compassionate mental healthcare.

“We are disappointed that NHSE have not been able to release the joint document co-produced with the Stop SIM coalition. We know that members of the group worked tirelessly on this piece of work, often sharing their own traumatic experiences.

“We are also deeply concerned to learn of the serious impact the decision not to release the joint document has had on the mental health of members of the coalition. NHSE must urgently reassess their coproduction processes, to make sure that the wellbeing and psychological safety of those involved is of the utmost priority at all times and ensure people with lived experience can confidently engage with them in the future.”

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, Mind is here to help. You can find support here, or Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday).

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