Swift action to address needs of members
As a mental health service provider, dealing with people whose challenges have been exacerbated by the current restrictions surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, GROW Mental Health Recovery is working hard to serve the needs of our members across 130 groups nationwide.
Prior to the suspension of all our support group meetings we had put in place a contingency plan that allows us to continue to support these very vulnerable people.
In the absence of our weekly meetings, staff have acted very quickly in responding to the challenge by seeking out new and alternative ways to provide our essential service in the community.
Area Co-ordinators are providing telephone initiatives that ensures direct contact with GROWers to allay their fears and anxiety, to remove isolation and to provide support.
Depending on the needs of the individual member, this involves making a call, or being available for a call, at least twice per week, or on a daily basis if required. As an Area Co-ordinator may be responsible for between 20 and 50 members, this new approach demands a considerable amount of time and huge commitment on behalf of staff.
Text messages and WhatsApp messages are regularly sent out to provide information, encouragement and in many cases to simply let people know that somebody is thinking about them and is there if they need assistance. Whats App is also being used to disseminate phrases and readings from the GROW Program, which are particularly relevant to the current situation.
Staff are also being very active in encouraging vulnerable people to deal with the isolation by continuing to keep in contact with each other during this time. The 12 Step Program is a core part of GROW Mental Health Recovery and finding new ways to continue this is foremost in our minds at this time.
We have put additional content and supports online for our members and the public in general. Where possible, online applications are being used to allow staff to keep in touch with members and for members to stay in contact with each other.
These measures have underlined the strength of the GROW community and how reaching out to support someone else, gives you a purpose and eases your own isolation. We have seen how that has mobilised incredibly within the groups, with staff encouraging it and calling on members to make the call, send the text, promoting support, creating links, and identifying risk before it become unmanageable.
Survey highlights our success
The results of our staff survey reveal the success of these initiatives with a high level of interaction with GROW members being recorded.
The first week of our survey covered the period of April 1st to 5th, where contact (outgoing and incoming) was made with a total of 689 GROW Members/Non-Members through a combination of a range of formats, including:
· Phone call
· Video conference
The reasons for checking in included:
· General Support
· Information/updates on GROW groups
· Discuss an aspect of GROW Program
· Information on GROW Australia eGrow meetings
The support provided was linked to the CHIME principles and it was concluded the benefit of the contact was as broken down as follows:
· Connectedness – 32%
· Hope – 46%
· Identity – 1%
· Meaning – 1%
· Empowerment – 21%
The value of the contact was also highlighted by the recording of the level of support required by members, which was rated as follows:
· Very low – 3%
· Fairly low – 13%
· Medium – 35%
· Fairly high – 28%
· Very high – 1%
Move to online meetings
In response to the suspension of weekly meetings, GROW Mental Health Recovery has spent a lot of time developing our capacity to host egroups which will allow members to hold their meetings online which will be of great benefit at this time and into the future. We have been liaising with our colleagues in GROW Australia in order to help us establish this service.
This has meant that staff have had had to go the extra mile in terms of research and training in order for them to learn the technology required and to enable GROWers how to access the meetings. Once up and running, it will place further demands on staff as they oversee the meetings and deal with any issues that may arise.
While waiting on this service to be fully up and running, we have been using technology to allow members to link up with members of their group to provide connection, support and a social outlet as well as promoting the 12 Step Program.
Following the Government’s decision to impose further restrictions in the fight against the Coronavirus ‘Creating Hope and Staying Positive during Covid-19’ is being hosted on and will provide information, advice, podcasts, coping techniques and fun tasks, centred around looking after our mental health during times of social isolation over the course of the next six weeks.
The premise of the idea is that we are facing the reality that this is a long-term process and we need advice that will sustain us over the coming weeks.
Each week, the initiative will deal with a new topic and illustrate how adapting the principles and techniques of GROW Mental Health Recovery can help us cope with the challenges we currently face.
These principles include, accepting our situation and being able to deal with it, taking control of our own situation while getting the support of others, along with staying connected, keeping balanced in all aspects of our life, and dealing with issues as they arise.
The six topics are as follows:
· Accepting What Is
· Connecting in Isolation
· Adopting a Positive Outlook
· Create Balance and Routine
· Challenge and Self-Care
· Deal With Anxiety
The efforts being put in to maintain our services are not only beneficial to members and potential members, but also mean that we are helping take the pressure off other parts of the health service such as hospitals, GPs and other support services.
Our initial response has been focussed on addressing the needs of our members but our service, supports and advice are available to the wider public as we attempt to address the mental health needs of everyone at this challenging time.
To keep on top of this ever-changing situation, we are holding bi-weekly management meetings to update, review and respond as further developments happen. This allows us to provide staff with regular updates, advice and information to enable us to continue providing the valuable service of GROW Mental Health Recovery.