Innovation is helping those suffering from Mental Health issues in the West Midlands

With the launch of our latest West Midlands Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund, Paul Handford, Head of Communications at Resonance thought he would investigate the issues faced in the West Midlands by those experiencing mental health issues, and he describes how two social enterprises in the region, are working to help people, using their innovative business models.

Firstly, let’s look at the stats:

  • Nearly 25% of all adults living in the West Midlands are experiencing a mental health problem at any one time*;
  • The risks of poor mental health are not uniformly distributed across the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) population, but are influenced by social, economic and physical environmental factors and social inequalities in particular*;
  • Women living in the poorest households, are nearly three times as likely as men living in the most well-off households, to be diagnosed with a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression*;
  • There are strong links between mental health and socio-economic conditions, as over half of the population of the WMCA is living in the 20% most deprived area in England*;
  • The aggregate cost of mental ill health in the WMCA in 2014/15 is estimated at £12.6 billion, which is equivalent to a cost of around £3,600 per head of population*;
  • Mental health support for adults and older people in Birmingham has reduced by 90% in the last financial year 2017/18**.

But there is help. The West Midlands is home to thousands of social enterprises, many focusing on helping those with mental health issues, just like Better Pathways, a not-for-profit organisation which helps adults and young people experiencing mental health problems on their pathway to recovery. Better Pathways, knows the value of how good employment helps mental well-being. It provides employment, education, training and volunteering services to support its clients in the local communities of Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Dudley and Coventry. It uses a person-centred approach, which means that its clients are equal partners in planning and developing the services that are put in place to support them.

Another innovative social enterprise is Citizen Coaching, a social enterprise that is making a difference, delivering over 12,000 counselling sessions a year. Citizen enables adults and young people to live better lives by providing timely, affordable, jargon-free access to counselling, anger management, personal development coaching and employment skills training.

“We have been operating since 2005 and our goal remains to keep breaking down the barriers to accessing counselling and anger management making it more accessible in a friendly, relaxed community setting”  says Citizen CEO Martin Hogg.

As people’s mental health improves they often find entering work difficult. Citizen’s social enterprises Citizen Click and Citizen Home give people the opportunity for internships, apprenticeships, volunteering and paid work in diverse areas including administration, online retail, video making and website design.

With the launch of our West Midlands SITR Fund we are aiming to help Social Enterprises like Better Pathways and Citizen Coaching, using social investment from the Fund that will allow them to grow and help even more people, suffering from mental health issues in the West Midlands.

For more information about our SITR Funds, contact Grace England t/07718425306 e/

*Source: Mental Health in the West Midlands Combined Authority Jan 2017

**Source: Birmingham Mental Health Funding