Reimagine a whole mental health ecosystem: 3-year impact
The Thrive Foundation is an accelerator for solving mental health. It uses emerging scientific evidence, cutting-edge innovation, and the human touch, to solve mental health in a community.
Mental health is dependent on structural determinants: mental wellbeing is best achieved in equitable, just and non-violent societies (Patel 2014). Few Western countries truly harness people power within their communities to improve their societies.
Our approach is to tackle mental health across the life-course of the population, from conception to old age, using a whole systems approach.
The three core principles of Thrive2020 for solving mental health are:
- Prevention and health promotion: protection and resilience enhancement – shifting a population from surviving towards thriving;
- Perfect Care: innovative treatments and suicide prevention;
- People Power: social justice, democracy and community empowerment
No single ecosystem has attempted to join the dots in the way, scale or time-scale that Thrive2020 intends.
Below are four case studies of the impact of a community movement attempting to reimagine a whole mental health ecosystem.
Case Study 1: Men’s Sheds
The founder of the Froome Men’s Shed, Patrick Abrahams, spoke at Thrive2020 (2016). He spoke of the power of men standing shoulder to shoulder and the social connection that Men’s Sheds provide without the need for mentioning the words “mental health”. Within three months a group of inspired citizens formed a working group, identified potential sites and started renovating a ruined packing shed. Within one year the Guernsey Men’s Shed is a thriving charity, the shed is wind- and watertight, and the site has co-located with a food growing project and Makerspace.gg. It is open to women aside from an internal “men’s only” private shed forming a small part of the space.
Case Study 2: The Daily Mile
Founded by Elaine Wyllie, a schoolteacher, in 2016, the Daily Mile encourages schools to get their children doing a mile a day in school time. It is simple and free to implement. No equipment or gym clothing is needed. Teachers and pupils at participating schools report improved fitness, physical and mental health, better academic and behavioural outcomes and reduced obesity. Elaine spoke at Thrive2020 (2017). By involving senior Education officials in the Thrive2020 event and linking them in with Elaine, most junior schools across the island have now implemented the Daily Mile.
Case Study 3: Science-based drug regulation
The criminalisation of young people for minor drug offences, with the effects on their life prospects and health, has been a major injustice in our community. Local evidence suggests that criminal punishment is costly (a prison sentence costs £40k p.a.) and does not help break the cycle of substance misuse, nor does it treat the underlying causes. Guernsey has historically set its own drug regulation laws, for example regulating the importation of psychoactive substances based on scientific evidence. Using this same innovative approach, we have been tackling the more fundamental issue of how society deals with people who use substances. Thrive2020 speakers supporting an evidence-based approach to drug regulation include Professor David Nutt (2015) and retired former Police Commissioner Tom Lloyd (2016). Through their talks and linked high-level meetings, as well as the work of a number of civic action groups, there was a 2017 announcement by the Guernsey Health and Social Care Department that medicinal cannabinoid regulation will be reviewed in partnership with our sister island of Jersey.
Case Study 4: A thriving recovery community
In 2015 there was little culture of “recovery” on Guernsey. Recovery is a self-defined process relating to health, wellbeing and social contribution stemming from 12-step fellowships. Key common elements are social connection, peer support, independence and “giving back”. Thrive2020 has hosted speakers on community-based recovery since 2015 (Mark Gillman; David Ryan) and in 2017, recovery was carried forward by speakers on exercise, nutrition, purpose, sailing and even extreme event cycling. Statutory agencies were inspired to put on Guernsey’s first Recovery Conferences in 2016 and 2017, with keynote speakers Peter Sheath and Kuladharini (Scottish Recovery Consortium).
In three years, the recovery ecosystem has grown by 300% at zero cost to the taxpayer. The Community now spans charities, mutual support and aligned project groups. These include: Gambling support group; Addictions Anonymous; SMART Recovery; RISE Recovery group; Spiritual Emergence Network; and a reinvigorated Mental Health Service User Group. There is an emerging leadership, empowered by MOE Coaching, and Peer-recovery Coaching Training on island. Guernsey’s Health Department has just published a Partnership of Purpose policy paper which is in perfect alignment with the partnership approach we have taken.