Pioneering mental health courses helping Sussex people stay well

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A pioneering Recovery College in Sussex that teaches people across Sussex how to manage their own mental health conditions is keeping people well, preventing stays in hospital and saving the NHS thousands, new research shows.

In one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken into the impact of the free Sussex Recovery College courses on the students who sign up for them, the new research paper published in the Journal of Mental Health shows that:

n Students used mental health services less after attending courses.

n Students who attended Recovery College were less likely to need to be admitted to hospital, or treated under section, and had fewer contacts with community mental health professionals.

n The reduction in mental health services needed by students who registered for Sussex Recovery College Courses equated to a saving of around £1,200 for the NHS per student per year.

Sussex Recovery College is a joint project between Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Southdown Housing Association and local voluntary organisations in East and West Sussex and Brighton & Hove.

It delivers free comprehensive, peer-led education and training courses, providing education as a route to recovery, to people across Sussex.

Courses are co-devised and co-delivered by people with lived experience of mental illness and by mental health professionals.

Dr Adrian Whittington, Director of Education and Training at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In mental health, recovery does not always mean the process of complete recovery from a mental health challenge in the way that we may recover from a physical health problem.

For many people, recovery is about staying in control of their lives despite experiencing a mental health challenge.

“Recovery College courses teach people exactly those skills and, for the first time, this study robustly demonstrates a reduction in the use of other services by Recovery College students.

It shows that after people have attended courses, their admissions to mental health services, time spent in hospital, and admissions under mental health act section were all lower than before.

“And while this is not about saving money but helping people live full and meaningful lives, this reduction in admissions to hospital and use of specialist services does equates to a cost saving of £1,200 per year per student which can be reinvested back into mental health services for those who need them.”

The research study was conducted by Philippa Bourne (Canterbury Christchurch University), Sara Meddings and Adrian Whittington (Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust).

It used data from 463 Sussex Recovery College students who attended courses over the summer and autumn terms and looked at how frequently those students used mental health services in the 18 months prior to registering at the recovery college, compared with the 18 months after attending a course.

Lissa Haycock, Senior Peer Trainer at Brighton & Hove Recovery College added: “Every day I see people overcoming challenges and conquering their mental health to get well and stay well.

“The transformation from when people first enrol with the college to after completing courses is inspirational.

“Whether you’re hoping to gain a better understanding of your mental health, develop creative skills as a route to recovery or meet people going through similar challenges, the college can help.”

To find out more about Sussex Recovery College, the selection of courses available and to register your interest to attend an open day, go to www.sussexrecoverycollege.org.uk, call 0300 303 8086 or email sussex.recoverycollege@nhs.net

Registration for courses available in the college’s spring term is open from January 11 to 21.

The full research study can be read here