The Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) model is described as "an innovative mental health workforce transformation model that brings together the police and community mental health services, in order to better support 'high intensity users' of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act (MHA) and public services."
The SIM model is part of a 'High Intensity Network' (HIN) approach, which is now live in all south London boroughs.
In this hub post, Steve Turner highlights the benefits and risks of this approach and seek your views on it.
In 2018, SIM was selected for national scaling and spread across the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). The High Intensity Network (HIN) has been working with the three south London Secondary Mental Health Trusts: The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, and the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service, A&E, CCG commissioners, and the innovator and Network Director of the High Intensity Network.
The model can be summarised as:
- A more integrated, informed, calm approach in the way we respond to individuals that have unique needs during a crisis and
- A better form of multi-skilled, personalised support after the crisis event is over.
So in July 2013 we invented the Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) model of care. This is how it works:
- SIM brings together all the key urgent care agencies involved in responding to high-intensity crisis service users around the table, once a month.
- This multi-agency panel selects each individual based on demand/risk data and professional referrals.
- They use a national 5-point assessment process to ensure that the right clients are chosen and in a way where we can ensure a delicate balance between their rights as an individual but our need to safeguard. Selected individuals are then allocated to a SIM intervention team.
- The SIM team is led principally by a mental health professional (who leads clinically) and a police officer (who leads on behaviour, community safety, risk and impact).
- The team supports each patient, to better understand their crises and to identify healthier and safer ways to cope. In the most intensive, harmful or impactive cases, the team also does everything it can to prevent the need for criminal justice intervention.
- Together, the mental health clinician, the police officer and the service user together create a safer crisis plan that 999 responders can find and use 24 hours day.
- The crisis plan is then disseminated across the emergency services.
- The SIM team reinforces these plans by training, briefing and advising front line responders in how to use the plans and how to make confident, consistent, higher quality decisions.
What are the benefits and risks of this approach?
It is claimed that this is a more integrated, calm and informed approach to responding to individuals in crisis and the HIN provides "better multi-skilled, personalised support after a crisis event was over".
The HIN website states:
"Across the UK, emergency and healthcare services respond every minute to people in mental health crisis and calls of this nature are increasing each year. But did you know that as much as 70% of this demand is caused by a small number of ‘high-intensity users’ who struggle with complex trauma and behavioural disorders? These disorders often expose the patient to higher levels of risk and harm and can simultaneously cause intensive demand on police, ambulance, A&E departments, and mental health crisis teams."
This approach has been subject to strong criticism from some users of mental health services, mental health clinicians and mental health support organisations. Concerns have been raised about whether the HIN/SIM approach is safe, effective or appropriate.
I believe we need an open and inclusive discussion about High Intensity Networks, with users of mental services leading the debate.
As a former mental health nurse in an Assertive Outreach team I'm keen to learn:
- How users of services were involved in the initial development of the model?
- What are the similarities and differences between High Intensity Networks and an Assertive Outreach model?
- How this approach compares with approaches in other countries?
- How users of services are involved in evaluating and adapting the model?
- What the specific benefits are for users of services and are there any risks to this approach? Does this lead to a long term improvements for users of services?
I hope people will feel able to contribute openly to this discussion, so we can learn together.