International mental health experts meet in the North West to tackle challenges of austerity

Mental health experts have been meeting in the North West to look at how mental health services can work in different ways to tackle the challenges of austerity, by drawing on experiences of pioneering recovery services from around the world.

International mental health experts come together

International mental health experts come together

The Think Tank event was hosted by AFG at its head office in Merseyside and facilitated by The International Health Collaboration Network (IMHCN).

The conference was organised by Mike Smith, AFG’s Clinical Director who was recently elected Vice Chair of the IMHCN, which is a formal network of partner organisations and individuals from across the world who are committed to the twin goals of deinstitutionalisation of psychiatric services and replacing them with a community based approach to mental health.

Speaking at the event he said: “Budgets for mental health services have, like many other things, been squeezed and it’s necessary to look at how we can continue to deliver quality care for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“It’s useful to hear how colleagues across the world are coping with cuts and share their experiences. It’s vital that mental health providers work together to develop a shared learning set for communities.”

Earlier this year, AFG linked up with Mobee, a Gambian charity, and has been sending groups of support workers to Africa to share their experiences and learn new skills.

Salifu Manneh, Director, of Mobee said: “This innovative approach to staff development is already delivering real benefits for people here and in Gambia.

“I think the mental health professionals who’ve visited Gambia as part of this partnership are shocked by the lack of resources available to us. Despite this, they have still been able to get involved and help people who need specialist support.

“Sharing knowledge is vital if we are to continue finding new ways and techniques to help people suffering with mental problems across the world.”

Lear Rothwell, Service Director and Lisa White, Recovery Lead, AFG

Lear Rothwell, Service Director and Lisa White, Recovery Lead, AFG

John Jenkins and Mike Smith

John Jenkins, Chair of IMHCN and Mike Smith, Clinical Director, AFG

Speaker presentations

Catch up on the conference action on our Twitter page @AFGSupport using the hashtag #ThinkTank2014.