Islington psychologists reduce mental health stigma with talks for adults in schools

10 May 2016

Psychologists in Islington have won a £10,000 prize after developing an innovative programme of community talks for adults to reduce stigma around mental health and promote knowledge on how to access mental health services.

The project ran in 15 Islington primary schools as a series of coffee morning talks for parents on different topics including helping people to think about the signs and symptoms of stress, low mood and worry. The discussions, organised by psychologists from Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I), also included help on self-care, learning relaxation and mindfulness exercises.

The project, run by the Trust’s Islington iCope Psychological Therapies & Wellbeing Service, won a prize in regional Health Education England Quality Awards to promote healthy living through education and training. The Quality Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in NHS physical and mental health services.

The series of talks attracted men and women from a diverse range of cultures and ages from throughout Islington. For some talks interpreters were used.

The vast majority of parents said that after attending a talk they would seek help from C&I’s Islington service, as well as recommend it to others – a view supported by the increase in referral numbers after the project began.

Psychologists believe this indicates that people who previously thought that they either could not or should not seek help for their mental health and psychological wellbeing, had done so.

Given the success of the “iCope Talks” as an important and powerful community project, the aim is to continue the work in the future.

Dr James Gray, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead at the Trust’s iCope service, said the project had also provided a valuable contribution to shaping  future community activity for promoting understanding and awareness of mental health and psychological therapies.

Dr Gray saw the project work and experiences as helping the general shift in people’s understanding of psychological therapies and the breadth of channels to deliver them. This included awareness of online self-help packages, rather than the traditional view of a weekly face-to-face meeting with a psychologist.

Psychological therapies are a crucial part of the services offered by the Trust and their use incorporates many of the pledges contained in its new Clinical Strategy.*

Notes to Editors

* Our Clinical Strategy

At the heart of everything we do are the guiding principles contained in our new Clinical Strategy launched in March 2016.  Our services delivering psychological therapies reflect the following pledges from the Clinical Strategy:

  • we will co-produce with our service users and carers their treatment and support
  •  we will work in a recovery-orientated way
  • we will offer evidence-based interventions
  • we will choose outcomes that measure things that matter to service-users and carers and use these to shape our services
  • we will integrate with other services so that service-users have their mental, physical and social needs met in a coherent way
  • we will prevent mental illness deteriorating or relapsing in all our service-users  and we will  contribute to initiatives that prevent mental health problems in children and young people
  • we will improve access to our services for everyone regardless  of  gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and other protected characteristics

Find out more about our new Clinical Strategy

About Camden and Islington NHS Trust

We provide mental health and substance misuse services to people living in Camden and Islington, substance misuse services to Westminster, and a substance misuse and psychological therapies service to residents in Kingston.

We have two inpatient facilities, at Highgate Mental Health Centre and St Pancras Hospital, as well as community based services throughout the London boroughs of Camden and Islington. Our Trust is also a member of University College London Partners (UCLP), one of the world’s leading academic health science partnerships.

We provide services for adults of working age, adults with learning difficulties, and older people in the London area either in a community or inpatient setting.

Our income for 2014/15 was £141million and we have approximately 1600 staff. Our staff  work in multi-disciplinary teams providing a holistic approach to recovery. This means that we often work with partner agencies and the voluntary sector. Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust was established in 2002. In March 2008 we became the first Care Trust to achieve Foundation Trust status and are licensed by Monitor.


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