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Ross-shire to see ‘huge’ expansion of mental health services from charity

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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New Community Link Workers for the mental health charity. Picture: Change Mental Health.
New Community Link Workers for the mental health charity. Picture: Change Mental Health.

A mental health charity is planning a “huge” expansion of vital services into Ross-shire and Sutherland communities, with new staff set to be recruited for the scheme.

Change Mental Health supports people experiencing health and wellbeing issues through their Community Link Worker (CLW) service, which has been commissioned and funded by NHS Highland since 2021.

This service is now set to expand across all GP surgeries in the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership — increasing the service’s impact by double, from serving 31 GP practices to now serving 62.

The expansion will also enable the charity to recruit additional staff to cover the new areas, including: west Sutherland, Badenoch, Strathspey, Skye, Lochalsh and the small isles.

Change Mental Health also recently opened a new resource centre in Invergordon, after relocating from Alness after 25 years.

Read more about Change Mental Health’s new Resource Centre in Invergordon here.

Clare Daly, Change Mental Health area manager for north of Scotland said: “This huge expansion will see more people supported across the Highlands, meaning the impact of the CLW service will be even greater over the coming years.

“We can’t wait to collaborate with more GP surgeries across the Highlands to ensure that people get the support they need, when they need it, in a way that works best for them.”

The CLW service is said to follow a social prescribing model, focusing to improve health outcomes for people experiencing stressors in their lives due to social problems that could lead to poor mental and physical health.

A person took part in the CLW service shared their thoughts: “I am now looking to volunteer. I wouldn’t have thought of that before, and I feel better in myself after speaking to a Community Link Worker. It has helped me to find out about things and opened up a lot of doors for me.”

The service is said to be entirely person-centred in its approach, with Community Link Workers getting to know the person and their interests by building a relationship – referring them to support that will best suit their needs.

People are offered up to eight sessions, and a plan will be developed during this time to help them feel a sense of achievement. Progress is discussed after each meeting with a review to determine goals, outcomes and priorities, while understanding how to further shape support around the individual.

The mental health charity have been awarded the contract to continue to deliver CLW services for at least another three years.

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