New radical NHS initiative saved me from suicide - reveals Bedfordshire man

"I’ve gained my life back thanks to social prescribing"

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 4:50 pm

Jamie’s life changed forever when social prescriber, Victoria, walked in on an unintentional suicide attempt at their initial consultation.

Since then, the two have worked closely together to save Jamie’s life.

But a social prescriber - what's one of those?

Picture posed by a model

You may well ask - it's part of a new initiative by the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Integrated Care System (ICS), where teams go one step further to care for residents like Jamie.

Social prescribing is when health professionals refer patients to support in the community to help improve their health and wellbeing.

It's a new approach to tackling physical and mental health issues - instead of giving clinical answers, you're asked personal questions.

So, instead of suggesting a drug to take, you can talk about doing something practical, like a park run

Picture posed by a model

Through this approach, Victoria was able to refer Jamie into community-lead initiatives to support him to tackle his issue with alcohol and drugs and help him to implement daily routines, like bathing, to help him take regular care for himself.

Jamie, said: “I can’t thank Victoria enough for what she has done for me. She sold life back to me when I was done.

“Over the years, I’ve struggled with alcohol and substance abuse which has caused a number of long-term conditions that I couldn’t manage alone. There was even a period where I wasn’t washing, just wearing the same clothes for months.

“Working together, I’m now on the right tracks and I am attending regular sessions for alcohol recovery and mental health support. It’s also inspired me to give back to the community.

“Last Christmas looked so bleak for me but this year I’m entering the festive period with a new outlook and excitement for the future.

“Thanks to social prescribing, I’ve gained my life back. Yes medication helps me manage my life but social prescribing has helped me to live it.”

Jamie’s link worker, Victoria, is a trained social prescriber and the wellbeing lead for Titan Primary Care Network (PCN) group of GP practices in Bedfordshire.

She said: “When I first met Jamie, he wasn’t seeking help from our local services at all and, although he was known to the local alcohol service, was not engaging with this support. Following social prescribing intervention, he is now fully engaged with his recovery.

“Social prescribing link workers are becoming an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team working out of GP practices. It’s not just about medical care but helping people to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. Jamie is the perfect example of how our work truly makes a difference.”