Starting next month (February), the contract was awarded by NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to The Big Life group.
The Big Life group provides a wide range of services, creating opportunities for people who often have the least. This includes a track record of delivering mental health services across the North West – including talking therapies services in Manchester and Stockport.
Big Life was appointed after the CCG redesigned its adult mental health service to allow more treatment to be given in the area’s 23 GP practices and in the community, rather than in clinics.
As therapists will be based in community settings, people will be able to access support and treatment in locations and at times which are convenient for them.
And more timely treatment will help people get better more quickly while reducing the need for more complex psychological interventions at a later date.
The new service, called Talking Therapies, will include support for people experiencing low-level issues with their mental wellbeing, delivered by Macclesfield-based Peaks & Plains Housing Trust, with Age UK Cheshire East and The Dove Service.
This part of the Talking Therapies service will help people with issues that can cause or worsen mental health problems. Examples include money worries, relationship problems or misuse of drugs or alcohol.
People will be able to self-refer to Talking Therapies or be referred by their GP, recognising that the GP practice is the first port of call for the vast majority of people needing support for their mental health and wellbeing.
Dr Ian Hulme, CCG clinical lead for mental health and GP with Meadowside Medical Centre, Congleton said: “This innovative approach to primary care mental health services is evidence of our commitment to ensuring that mental health is taken as seriously as physical health. This is why we invested nearly £25m in mental health in 2015-16 and will be doing so again this year.”
Fay Selvan, CEO of The Big Life group, said: “We are delighted to be delivering the Talking Therapies service. In all our services, we prioritise working in and for local communities, to make sure that what we deliver meets the needs of our service users.
“Working with Peaks & Plains, Talking Therapies will do more than just work with people to improve their mental health. We help people look at everything affecting their wellbeing.”
Helen Davies, service lead for Peaks & Plains Housing Trust, said: “We were awarded the wraparound contract because we have a proven track record in Eastern Cheshire and are committed to improving people’s lives.”