Stirling Team Recognised for Work to Support People with Mental Illness

Helping people with severe and enduring mental health difficulties to live a longer and more fulfilling life has resulted in a practice excellence award for a team based at NHS Forth Valley’s Livilands Mental Health Resource Centre in Stirling.

The award, from the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland, was for a programme which includes master classes in art, sporting activities including bowling, badminton and football, and education about diet, smoking, and substance misuse.

Research shows that side effects from prescribed medication and negative symptoms of the illness can lead to increased risks of long term health conditions and impact on life expectancy.  Because of this, people with severe and enduring mental health problems could have a life expectancy of 15-20 years less than the general population. NHS Forth Valley staff working at Livilands Mental Health Resource Centre refuse to accept that this needs to be the case and have developed ways to try to address inequality.

NHS Forth Valley Senior Charge Nurse, Heather Tainsh, explained: “This patient group often struggles to access and maintain contact with health and social activities and require an assertive approach to manage these very important areas of their lives.

“Most of these patients have had significant episodes of relapse in early adult life and have missed the opportunity to ‘learn’ the skills of socialising, cooking, maintaining employment and generally all the things which bring quality to our life experience. At Livilands Resource Centre we decided to try to do something about this.”

Activities arranged over the past year have included garden parties, one specifically for the 70th anniversary of the NHS and a 10 mile walk which involved patients of varying ability. A gardening group has been established to grow vegetables and a Young Person Group has been supported by staff members.