An innovative BEH scheme which sees people with lived experience of mental health issues supporting others has won national recognition.

Date: 05 June 2019

Seven peer support workers (PSWs) employed by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust (BEHMHT), began work with the liaison psychiatry team in North Middlesex University Hospital’s emergency department around a year ago. During that time they have worked alongside clinicians – drawing on their own experience to support people turning up at the department who have a mental health diagnosis or who colleagues feel might have mental health issues.

The team gave a presentation to the Royal College of Psychiatrists liaison psychiatry conference last Friday and won joint first prize.

Justin Shute, Clinical Lead for Liaison Psychiatry at BEHMHT and Consultant Psychiatrist at the North Middlesex, said: “We are the first liaison psychiatry team to integrate PSWs into our service so they can see patients in the emergency department who are in crisis.

“It was initially a challenge as both the PSWs and the wider team worked out how we could best work together. That is the way with any new approach but six of the seven PSWs are still working with us a year later. Now everyone is clear about the PSWs’ valuable contribution and we’ve had excellent patient feedback.”

He continued: “Our peer support workers are often the first members of our multi-disciplinary team able to build a trusting relationship with service users, because they have a unique insight in living with and experience mental illness.

“When it comes to caring for people who arrive at A&E and need mental health support, peer support workers are an absolutely vital part of the multi-disciplinary team.”

The service was initially commissioned by NHS England and negotiations are underway with local clinical commissioning groups for it to be re-commissioned.

They are among around 25 peer support workers employed by BEH who are working across a range of sites.

  • Summary:

    Seven peer support workers (PSWs) employed by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust (BEHMHT), began work with the liaison psychiatry team in North Middlesex University Hospital’s emergency department around a year ago. During that time they have worked alongside clinicians – drawing on their own experience to support people turning up at the department who have a mental health diagnosis or who colleagues feel might have mental health issues.