Local NHS Peer Supporter designs fridge magnet to help people seeking support

An NHS Peer Supporter has designed a fridge magnet to make it easier for people to seek help for their mental health.

Mel Christie, who works for Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), has drawn on her own experiences to come up with the fridge magnets, which she hopes can be given out to service users to complement mental health support booklets and cards.

Four different magnets have been designed by CNTW, covering the four geographical areas the Trust serves. They include the phone numbers of different teams that people may need when seeking help for their mental health.

Mel works as a Peer Supporter on a mental health inpatient ward. A Peer Supporter is someone who uses their own lived experiences to share insight, understanding and empathy with others on their recovery journey. A Peer Supporter’s job is to challenge the stigma around mental health, and promote hope. They act as a voice for service users, helping staff in their understanding and awareness of what it means to be a service user.

“I was very ill, and my husband had to phone the crisis team,” she explained.

“He was looking for the number on his phone and I was getting distressed. My daughter got a board and put all the useful numbers on there. It was like a crutch for me, I felt better knowing there was something there with all the information on.”

Mel thought a fridge magnet would be the best option.

“Not everyone has a phone, or you can’t always get internet or signal,” she said. “Phones can break, or you can lose your numbers. A magnet can be for everyone to use, and I hope they will be useful when people feel they need help or support.”

The idea became a reality after Mel approached the Trust’s chief executive. Her advice is, “If you have an idea, go for it. I know I’m trusted at work and feel listened to as an employee.”

The magnets will also be given to patients when they are transitioning from hospital back into the community.

Mel hopes people will feel they can call the numbers if they need. “There can still be stigma around mental health and people don’t always know where to go for help. I would urge people to not be afraid to use the numbers.”

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and disability services in the North East and North Cumbria.

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