2016 GSK IMPACT Awards: Falkirk and District Association of Mental Health

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  • Posted:Thursday 12 May 2016

An organisation based in Falkirk, Scotland, that works to promote mental health recovery for adults aged 16 and over.

In Scotland, one in four people will experience a diagnosable mental health problem each year. Falkirk and District Association of Mental Health (FDAMH) provides a range of services including counselling, befriending, family and carer support groups, a mental wellbeing drop-in, educational and social activities and training. It also works in GP surgeries, with patients referred to FDAMH as an alternative to medication.

What the judges said:

This charity achieves impressive results for its service users, which are at the centre of its work. It is run by a team of committed staff and volunteers from the local community who can take pride in this well deserved award.


In Scotland as a whole it’s reckoned to be about one in four individuals will at some time in their life experience some level and degree of mental ill-health.

Some of our areas in this part of the country suffer from greater levels of social depravation than average.

We also have problems with recruiting and managing GP practices. We have seen the number and the demand for the services grow.

I’ve had quite a hard upbringing. I think basically I always felt unwanted and unloved as a child upwards. Just I was afraid of everything, of being around people, not being around people, being in the house, being out the house, it was a scary scary time. And then I came in here, and wow it’s been a big change coming in here and meeting people.

Falkirk’s Mental Health Association is known in the community as FDAMH and our organisation goes back to the early 80s. So this is an organisation who are prepared to challenge, be bold but also be very innovative. In FDAMH the recovery based approach is important in encouraging people to participate in other activities and groups.

We have the immediate health service that is for anybody that’s in crisis, can walk in off the street.

The service is really helpful because people can’t necessarily get appointments with their doctors when they really need it and it also helps people to engage with the drop-in and other services as well.

A number of our trainers go into schools and explain to children and young people what they thought ill-health is, what to look out for, what they can do to support themselves.

We have the befriending department to help to build up their social skills and linking back into the community, getting them used to being out and about again, not being so isolated. We’ve got two areas within that, the standard befriending which is for people with a diagnosis of mental health. And then we have the Third Age befriending which is predominantly for people aged 55 years and over and they’re at risk of developing mental health conditions.

The befriending can be vital because it’s not a medical path, but it’s the sports and joy of films, normally just trying to give them a normal conversation.

We also have a little social contact group and then we have the telephone befriending which is for people that cannot go out the house either due to severe anxiety or problem of physical limitations.

We’ve coined the phrase ‘have a blether together’. We found that really beneficial for people.

So social security service was set up a couple of years ago support for the patients with reduced mental wellbeing. We have two practitioners based at two GP surgeries in the Forth Valley area.

Social prescribing is about providing non-medial sources of support for individuals without FDAMH the social prescribing initiative would not have taken off in the Forth Valley.

One of the skill’s that’s absolutely essential to being a GP is knowing how to support your patients to find ways they can support themselves.

I think what FDAMH has done is respond to that need and offer services that are responsive in the right way.

FDAMH been very much involved in the community from day one, for building resilience project, it gives people skills to manage and cope themselves. In the last year over 50 organisations have come to see what we’re doing and our approach to take it back to develop policy elsewhere and that cascading is just marvellous.

FDAMH have been able to punch a way beyond their weight here in the Falkirk area, they play an important part across the whole of Scotland as well.

I realised that I wasn’t alone, that there is other people that’ve got the same things as me or they’ve got something going on and that I’m safe here, it is a safe place to be, I didn’t have to be afraid.

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