Experience – Social Prescribing

Social Prescribing and then Befriending helped beat terrible anxiety

I have always been an outgoing adventure seeker … I travelled all over and never had a care … In 2004 I was walking my dog when a tall man started yelling at me he was angry and mentally abusive.. there was no reason for his outburst but such a small act left a massive impact on me .. I was badly shaken.

A few days later out shopping with my partner I collapsed in a supermarket unknown to me I was pregnant .. I awoke to a sea of strangers all crowded around me .. it was the most horrific experience of my life I was absolutely terrified ..i have never felt so helpless ever and felt so incredibly shamed to have been stared at by so many at an obviously traumatic time. I passed out a further 2 times trying to get out of the store too quickly.

From then on I could not leave the house .. I spent 4 years too terrified to leave the house .. I couldn’t make it out my front door without having a full blown panic attack .

Both situations together in a short space of time knocked my confidence to the ground ..

When I had my baby I tried so hard to force myself to go out … after facing my fears a few occasions I found that I could travel in a car with family although I still had panic attacks and could only walk very short distances with family by my side it was still nerve wracking I managed to overcome the panic attacks and control them somewhat with my safety nets, bottle of water, sugary sweets, rubbing the sharp end of a key down my thumb just to keep myself in control.

I eventually lost all my friends due to my refusal to socialise – all I had was my family who lived a half hour drive from me .. I was not able to pluck up the courage to get on a bus or take a taxi so I had no way to get to my family whenever I wanted or on my bad days when I felt I needed them most.

After seeing many therapists over many years I gained some control over my life although I still could not go anywhere without a family member .

My doctor eventually referred me to FDAHM for therapy which helped immensely. I found the therapists (Social Prescribing Practitioner) actually listened to me and helped me with coping strategies, and helped me to control the fear and not let it rule my life anymore …

Then I was referred to the befriending scheme which really turned my life around .. at first it was completely nerve wracking the thought alone of going on a bus with a stranger terrified me .. actually made me have panic attacks sitting at home thinking about it … but meeting with Natalie I found her so relaxed and friendly and completely understanding of my situation never judging me only encouraging and helping me to see the positives in every situation .. she also reminded me to always be proud of my achievements no matter how small they are .. and by taking baby steps she encouraged me to do what I felt comfortable and never pushed me to do anything I felt would be too much for me.

She showed me that there was so very much in life that I have been missing out on even day to day things like going for a cuppa or going shopping its truly exhilarating now to be in a position where I now have found the confidence to get up and go whenever I feel like it without having to worry or panic ..

I never in my life thought I would do even half the things I do now I go on the bus by myself , I can go to my child’s school plays .. I never blink an eye at the thought of panicking now because I have learned through FDAMH that I can control my fears and I have and will continue to do so.

Without FDAMH I guarantee I would not be in the position I am just now of enjoying life to the full and I will be eternally grateful to everyone at FDAMH who has helped me on my journey. It has been difficult and sometimes very challenging but I could not be more proud of myself for facing those fears and not letting them rule me. FDAMH has given me my life back.

Tags: Anxiety, Befriending, Panic, Social Prescribing
15/09/2016 at 2:21 pm

Social Prescribing is a learning process

The service is a valuable tool to help through real crisis periods. It is a learning process and I can look back and see real benefit and change in terms of where I am now compared to how I felt entering the service. It has been an alternative route for me, I have looked at what changes I can make with help and support guiding me rather than hoping medication will solve my problems. Valuable service!!

Tags: Social Prescribing
15/09/2016 at 1:52 pm

Social Prescribing helped me actively participate in living again

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I first came in but right from the minute I walked in the door, I felt welcomed and that I mattered which was good as my self esteem/confidence were very low.

The worker was encouraging in her contact with me and this helped to lift me into a ‘can do’ approach, I had been hiding myself away and getting further and further disconnected with other people and with my own self. I was able to follow the tools and techniques given and subsequently my confidence started to grow whilst I started to actively participate in living again.

Life isn’t always easy but it can and does get better through hard work and the realisation that this life is indeed my own and that I need to take full rseponsibility for that.

I don’t know how to thank you but I do intend to make a donation from my first pay packet, yes I have been able to get back to work!

Tags: Social Prescribing
15/09/2016 at 1:48 pm

Reflection by a Social Prescribing Practitioner

About 4 and a half years ago when applying for a Community Psychiatric Nurse post I was required to do a presentation – the topic was the future of community psychiatric nursing. In this presentation I envisioned a role for a mental health worker based in a community setting with the potential to outreach other community resources. Well as luck would have it, this vision was offered as a job vacancy with the new Link/Social Prescribing project at FDAMH last December and I seized the moment and applied for this job. To my delight I was successful and here I am today.

Moving to FDAMH to work as a Social Prescriber fits in with my values of using a client centred approach to look at the difficulties people are experiencing, not just in a medical way but within the client’s social environment, enabling the client to manage their recovery in a way that is unique to them. The benefit for the client is that they stay totally in control and dictate not only the pace at which their journey moves along, but also the route their recovery journey will take.

I am able to draw from a vast resource of experience and knowledge gained from 26 years of psychiatric nursing within Forth Valley Health Board. I feel I have a freedom of practice in this role as it is more flexible, set as it is in a smaller organisation, than in a larger organisation where ownership of a role is more difficult.

Yet I also find this smaller organisation is no less professional in its care delivery, indeed the lack of bureaucracy has meant I can more readily access the various activities and services which my clients have indicated that they need. I enjoy working within the fluidity our service offers, which can change course to meet the demands of the users.

Looking at community resources to assist, means the clients have a sense of ownership of their local community and can be influential in shaping what their community looks like quite literally as well as metaphorically. The normalisation of some anxiety symptoms and reactive depression in the Social Prescribing Service lessens the dependence on medical models and I have found this to be an empowering experience for the majority of my clients.

Benefits of the Social Prescribing intervention must also extend to more specialist services that can then devote their skills and time to people who need them. I also find that I can use my previous contacts, acting as a bridge between GP services and the more specialist services, so that the client can benefit – simplifying the journey to recovery for the person experiencing the distress.

This move to the third sector has been a positive development for me and has increased my awareness of the variety of good work being done out with statutory services.

Tags: FDAMH, Link Service, Social Prescribing
20/05/2014 at 1:32 pm

Feedback from clients using the new Social Prescribing Service

“Really useful, easy access quick and informative service”
“Local service that took time to listen and find out what I needed as an individual”
“I just want to say thanks to the service”
“A hive of information, the best thing I ever went to, she was absolutely brilliant she listened to everything. So much patience”
“Every week the worker had more information that helped and is still helping me. I have a befriender now who is lovely and I’ve lost 2 stones which was helped by the referral made to Active Forth Physical Activity Scheme.”
“The worker was so very welcoming and it made it easy to go back”
“I would have liked the support to continue, it was a great service, and the information was really useful at that time”
“I was really pleased with the help I was given at the right time for me. I am able to socialise more and have met a really good friend at the Tai Chi group”
“I was very happy with the service”
“The service helped me a great deal”

Submitted: Aug 2013

Tags: Social Prescribing
08/04/2014 at 12:50 pm