Improving Mental Health in Portsmouth

Working with people to improve community mental health support in the city


The Improving Mental Health in Portsmouth project has been set up to help improve community mental health support in the city.

We want to make getting mental health care simpler, smarter and more joined-up, so there is ‘no wrong door’ for getting support.

We’re working closely with our partners, people with lived experience, carers, volunteers and professionals to help shape our new ways of working – and we’re keen for more people to join us.

Find out more about the work we’ve done so far,  including information on our previous events and workshops.

Female: This week, we’ve been holding our second stage of workshops and asking people from across the city – so, other professionals from different organisations, people who use our services, carers – to come in and give us feedback about what they think mental health services need to look like from an access point of view, from that first point of contact.

So, how do we produce services, and particularly our focus is on access on mental health services in the city, that are coproduced – so that’s being produced by people who use the services and work in the services. And that’s our aspiration is to radically rework how our services are designed.

Male: We had a programme to ask questions and a voice in everything, and it was good feedback. We had experienced people around the table, and it’s always important to tell your story, whatever you’re doing. We are a community that cares.

Female: So this builds on a previous round of workshops we held that were much more conversational, that asked people what do they think are the challenges of accessing mental health services in the city, what would be useful, what does it need to look like. So this week we’ve been asking again, what does that need to be and asking for more detail. We’ve been so, so fortunate – people have been giving us some absolutely brilliant feedback about what things need to look like and feel like in order to meet the population’s needs.

Male: Workshops like the one that was on today are important because it’s good to get in a room with a lot of like-minded individuals, a lot of people with shared passions and shared interests. It was very interesting because already within five minutes, I’d learnt something new, and some new things I’m going to take to my service and team, and ultimately I think it’s going to be a benefit to the clients that we all support.

Female: When we’re looking and talking about people that we work with we know that they’re not just an individual, they’re part of a much bigger network so it’s about engaging and working with those people who are around that individual. So, obviously them, themselves, their family, their friends, their community, their social support groups – anywhere they also might have contact because we need to get their information so we can design things that work, that are realistic. And as we get more of a fixed idea of the model we will deliver in Portsmouth we can test it with the groups that will use it in the future.

Male: The word is awareness. I now am learning more and more because of today about mental health, the stigma. I’m hoping I can pass that on with my voluntary work to help other people, and help yourself as well.

Female: It’s incredible to have so many people who are so keen to share their ideas and give feedback about how things should be and what should happen with the city.

Male: I work daily with the clients that are using the services on a daily basis and I think it’s important to have people from all kind of steps and all kind of areas in that because at the end of the day we’re all using it and I think it’s important to get that feedback on what’s going to work and what isn’t. I think it’s important to have so many voices included so you can represent every kind of demographic and every group has a chance to be represented. You have to be inclusive, you have to be open, I think it’s one of the only ways you can be successful.

Female: So, our hope from here is that we now have enough information to at least start putting those first steps together about what services will look like. The coproduction part of it, the joint working to design something, will continue.

My hope for the future from these workshops and the work that were doing over the next few years is that the people of Portsmouth will be able access really excellent services that will be able to support with their mental health and enable them to see the right person quickly, in order that they can get on and live happy, meaningful lives.

Why are we doing this?

In 2019, NHS England published three documents which explained how they would like mental health support to be improved. This included a Community Mental Health Framework which focused on improving support and helping people to live better within their community.

In response to this, health and care partners from across the city came together and created the Improving Mental Health in Portsmouth project.

We’re hoping to improve mental health support in the following ways:

  • Improve waiting times and how people get support
  • Make sure people only need to tell their story once, avoiding unnecessary repeat assessments and referrals
  • Care based on a person’s needs
  • Working together as one team
  • No one is refused support due to their diagnosis or complex needs
  • No one falls through the gaps when trying to get support
  • Remove barriers between GPs and mental health services

Hannah Houghton, transformation manager, said:

“This is a really exciting project for the city, and it’s been great to come together as a community to discuss what mental health services should look like, and how we can improve. We’d like to thank everyone who has got involved so far, especially residents who have had the courage to share their own personal stories. We’ve received really valuable feedback from our recent workshops, which we’re using to make positive changes and create our new ways of working.”

Further information

Over the past few months, we’ve been working together to look at how we can improve people’s journey to getting mental health support.

As we start to make changes, your feedback will be vital in helping us to continue improving, so everyone can get the mental health support they deserve.

We’re keen for more people to get involved, especially people with lived experience, carers, volunteers and professionals from across the city. We also welcome people who have an interest in mental health, and who are passionate about making a difference.

We want to make sure all voices are heard and that the new ways of working are based on the experience of people in our community, and their needs.

Get involved

There are lots of different ways you can get involved, such as:

  • Taking part in workshops
  • Joining our Lived Experience Network and taking part in discussions with HIVE Portsmouth
  • Sharing your thoughts on our ideas and suggestions

If you’d like to find out more, we’d would love to hear from you. Please call 023 9400 7124 or email HIVE Portsmouth.


Improving Mental Health in Portsmouth is a partnership between Portsmouth City Council, NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, Solent NHS Trust and HIVE Portsmouth.