1. Once you have established a rapport by asking the person’s name, ask whether they are disabled under the Equality Act. This will not be a difficult question for them to answer. People will completely understand what you mean, and besides everybody jumps at the opportunity to get classed as being disabled.
2. All people with mental health difficulties love being asked questions. It is therefore important to do as much of this as possible. Assess them yourself, and refer them to anyone else you can think of who may also be able to assess them. It’s best if you all ask the same questions, but don’t share the answers.
3. Make accessing support into a sort of obstacle course. Approaching a mental health service in the first place was plain sailing, and people with mental health difficulties love making phonecalls, and dealing with correspondence. It gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning. A tried and tested approach is to ask them lots of questions when they ring you, then tell them you’ll send them a letter asking them to ring you again to make an appointment. Do this regardless of whether you have any intention of sending the letter.
4. Ensure that they need to reapply for support frequently. Make renewal applications as complex as the initial one, regardless of whether the support is the same as it has always been.
5. Remember that the receptionist’s job is to ensure that nobody can make an appointment.
6. Discharge people on a whim. They will love restarting the whole process. This way they get the pleasure of navigating the appointment and assessment system again, which is bound to keep anybody’s spirits up.
Many thanks to Access to Work and Bolton Primary Care Mental Health Service for their assistance in compiling this list. Moodswings have a lot to learn.