David has struggled with mental health difficulties for 28 years. He explained that he could be very low at times and had been feeling very isolated. Recently, David moved to Schoolacre Road Surgery in Shard End, where the GP reviewed his medication and referred him to Lorna, one of our Social Prescribing* Link Workers.
Lorna and David have been regularly chatting over the phone. During these conversations, Lorna was able to listen and offer advice. He explained that this simple form of support has made a significant difference.
‘From when I started speaking to Lorna, she’s just been extremely helpful. Even if it was just a chat with her. I was very very mentally low, so just to hear a friendly voice calling and saying I’m here to listen to what’s going on with you and see if I can do anything to help you was really nice.’
As well as providing a listening ear, Lorna also referred David to the Living Well Consortium, so that he could access Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions. With support from his Social Prescribing Link Worker and the counselling service, David said that ‘things were progressing really well in general. I didn’t need to have as many sessions as initially planned. I was discharged early because we were both happy.’
During their telephone conversations, one of the things Lorna and David often spoke about was how issues within David’s workplace were negatively affecting his mental health. He explained that at work he didn’t feel appreciated or supported. But with encouragement from others, David explained
‘With their support, I started really pushing for changes myself. I was able to resign and now I’ve got a new job where I feel so much better. It’s demanding and hard work, but it’s a much more supportive team, you’re made to feel like you’re part of a family.’
David reflected that these positive changes were steps that he had to take himself, but that it was made more possible by the support he felt from his Social Prescriber, counsellor, and his friends and family.
‘I had to do it myself. Simple as that. But it was necessary and good to have that support network behind me. Kind of like I was a boxer going into my first championship, and I needed my corner behind me to win.’
Based on the confidence and support he gained, David also recently passed his driving theory test and plans to take his practical test in March.
Patients can access a range of social and physical activities through Social Prescribing, which David said are a ‘great chance to get out and be sociable’. He finds it hard to attend a regular walking group due to work commitments but hopes to start going along on his day off.
Social prescribing link workers support patients with a range of social, emotional, or practical needs. If you are working with a patient who could benefit from social prescribing, contact your Social Prescribing Link Worker or PCN lead.
*Social Prescribing connects people to social and physical opportunities within their communities that support their wellbeing. The Active Wellbeing Society organise a range of activities and groups that we can connect patients with – including walk and talks, growing, and cycling.