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Providing early help for families - East Sussex’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Prescription Pad

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As part of our joined-up ‘Think Family’ approach in East Sussex we launched an innovative new scheme in July 2018: ‘The Mental Health and Wellbeing Prescription Pad’ in Hastings and Rother. This is a joint venture between Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, East Sussex County Council and NHS Hastings and Rother CCG.

The pad was co-produced with GPs and parents/carers to meet the needs of patients asking for advice and support at local surgeries. In many cases parents were experiencing stress, anxiety and depression due to balancing family life and dealing with challenging parenting issues.

Young people would often present with mental health and emotional wellbeing concerns that would not meet thresholds needed for a CAMHS intervention. GPs wanted a tool to encourage parents and young people to access available services.  The Prescription Pad is regularly being used in nine surgeries.

GP prescription pade
The Prescription Pad is like a traditional notepad, with pages that can be torn off. It contains easy-reference information for GPs to provide a list of top tips to the parent/young person that is a call to action, giving them a recommendation to seek support and information about how to do it.

GPs use the Prescription Pad to signpost parents and young people with a range of emerging emotional wellbeing concerns to projects that offer open-access early help: Open for Parents (the universal parenting offer based on Triple P interventions) and i-Rock (a drop-in service for 14-25 year olds with emotional health needs).  Both projects are part of ‘Healthy Hastings and Rother’ – a programme to tackle health inequalities in the area.

Open for Parents delivers evidence-based Triple P parenting interventions based on a whole population approach. Triple P has been shown to prevent and treat behavioural, emotional and developmental problems in children by enhancing the knowledge, skills and confidence of parents.

The offer varies in intensity and delivery methods, making it responsive to individual needs. Open for Parents has seen a steady increase in the number of parents making contact following a GP visit and in practices where the pads are being used, other staff are now more confident in sign-posting to parenting support.

The award winning i-Rock project offers immediate support to young people experiencing issues affecting their emotional wellbeing; offering a light touch triage before jointly identifying the best pathway for support.  As well as support directly related to emotional and mental wellbeing, i-Rock provides advice and guidance about employment, education and housing in young-person friendly surroundings with partner agencies. i-Rock helps bridge the gap between children’s and adult services. 47% of young people accessing i-Rock have been signposted by their GP. Click to see more about i-Rock

Our Prescription Pad enables early help for many when other services have thresholds and require formal referrals.  Dr Naomi Konu from the Harold Road practice in Hastings said:

The mental health and wellbeing prescription pad is a simple way to signpost people to a range of i-Rock and Triple P services in a way that’s easy to understand and follow up on. We’ve been using them in the surgery and they have proved to be a real success with the number of sign-ups to services increasing since their introduction.”

The open-access nature of Open for Parents and i-Rock helps reduce demand for more specialist services.  Building on this partnership approach to ‘Think Family’, we now have information running on practice screens in waiting rooms with top tips and highlighting local help as well as regular drop-ins.


Catherine Watson

Practice Manager – Troubled Families

East Sussex County Council

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