LOCAL and international maverick thinkers are being urged to share their ideas on helping people with mental health problems to live meaningful and more fulfilling lives.
The competition, thought to be the first of its kind in health and social care, is looking for new approaches to the problem of keeping people well and out of mental health services.
It is being supported by the North West Social Value Foundation – an independent think- tank – and will be managed by Salford-based social enterprise Unlimited Potential using national funding.
The competition is being backed by local health, social care and mental health advocacy organisations.
The competition acknowledges that people are experts in their own lives and can often come up with new and radically different ways to tackle problems. It will build on the strengths and social relationships that already exist within local neighbourhoods to enable people with mental health problems to have greater control over their own lives. It is also looking for ideas that can be replicated across the country.
The competition is open to local people, including those who have mental health problems themselves, as well as people from any walk of life such as artists, technologists, scientists, engineers, students or business people.
The competition recognises that people from different backgrounds and with different experiences and skills may be able to offer fresh eyes. It is also being advertised on the internet to encourage international ideas alongside local ones.
As well as nine cash prizes of £1,000 each for the best ideas, it is an opportunity for anyone with a passion for improving people’s lives to see their idea potentially taken up and implemented.
Three big problems in the NHS in the North West will be tackled in Salford, Knowsley and Wirral. Mike Pyrah, who leads on this work for the Social Value Foundation, said: “We want to hear from local people who understand their communities best and know what will work and what won’t. If you are sat there thinking, why don’t they do such and such, now is the time to tell us.”
Local leaders in mental health services, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) have already recognised that they need to think differently about how they deliver services.
Val McGee, CWP Wirral Service Director and Deputy Director of Operations at the Trust, who is helping to lead the work, said: “We need to be looking at the whole person and the community in which they live and not just their mental health problems. We need to be working with individuals about the positive aspects of their lives and not just the negatives or problems. We think our community holds the key to this.”
Anyone who is interested in applying is invited to visit the website www.nwsocialvaluefoundation.org for a downloadable application form, or can contact the project manager, Heather Henry, on 07941 790670.
The closing date for applications is September 9.