19 May 2021
The original version of this statement was initially published on our Twitter account on 20 April; the below has been updated to reflect recent developments regarding SIM.
There's been growing debate about use in a number of places across England of the High Intensity Network's ‘Serenity Integrated Mentoring’ model with people who have complex mental health needs and require frequent support from emergency services.
Many people in this situation have been let down by a number of different services, including mental health services, and they deserve effective and compassionate support.
Concerns have been raised, predominantly by people with lived experience of mental health care, about whether the Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) approach is safe, effective or appropriate. These concerns need to be taken seriously. Any new approach or intervention to support people’s mental health needs to be tested robustly and independently, before it is spread widely.
Like any new approach, SIM needs to be evaluated for its safety, effectiveness and acceptability, including with evidence drawn from personal experience. This is especially important for any approach involving elements of coercion, which can have lasting negative effects.
We are also deeply concerned about the way such approaches could further heighten the stigma around people with complex needs, or re-traumatise them, instead of giving people the compassionate support they need and deserve.
It is vital that already limited funding for mental health support is spent wisely. Policy must follow robust evidence, and decisions about resource allocation need to be open and challengeable. We would like to see that evidence presented publicly and compared with alternative approaches.
We welcome statements from Tim Kendall and Claire Murdoch asking NHS mental health trusts to review their use of SIM approaches. We call on them to state when we can expect these reviews to take place, and also call for a national review of this model and for clarity about the support people should expect to receive.
We're grateful to numerous people who've been highlighting their concerns about this for some time. Any mental health support must be compassionate, trauma-informed and evidence-based. We will continue to champion those values in our work.