Reducing isolation and loneliness through social prescribing.
In partnership with Mental Health and Wellbeing Division - Victorian Department of Health
Australians are experiencing higher rates of social isolation and loneliness, and this is especially true in older Victorians; some who are stuck in a cycle of psychological distress, mental ill health and addiction. The level of social connection and support that exists between individuals and groups needs to improve for better mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
Our challenge was to co-design a new initiative that reimagined how we support people experiencing psychological distress, mental ill health and addiction (including their carers, families and supporters) by engaging them in non-clinical, community-based activities.
We took a truly unique approach to designing with lived experience in the mental health sector. We needed to create a new design process that prioritised partnership, challenged traditional power structures and enabled shared decision-making.
Across three months, we coached people with lived experience in design thinking and facilitation to enable decision-making at every level.
32 consumers and carers came together to a create trauma-informed co-design space to design a new service model for 'Social Prescribing’. This led to outputs that challenged the traditional policy and report outputs for government to ones that were driven by storytelling and captured the genuine human experience and desire.
A supportive service for Victorians to access community-based activities was endorsed by the Victorian Mental Health and Wellbeing Promotion Adviser, a project control group led by lived experience was established, and the initiative is being adopted locally and trialled across six locations with a plan to scale across Victoria.
Our co-designers described that Social Prescribing will increase ‘self-esteem, confidence, sense of belonging, and empowerment’. Others highlighted that it will increase ‘motivation, meaning and a positive mood’ while supporting physical health.
Social prescribing is intended to bring a new, holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing and provide non-clinical ways to improve confidence, self-esteem, a sense of control and empowerment. This is a significant shift from the medical model, recognising that communities are well-placed to support mental health and wellbeing.