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TWO NEW TEAMS TO TACKLE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AMONGST THE HOMELESS

June 13, 2006 12:32 PM

Two new specialist teams to tackle mental health problems experienced by homeless people have been launched involving NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and partner agencies.

Experts in trauma and personality disorder have been brought together to offer support, teaching and training, and advice to statutory and voluntary organisations working under the Glasgow Homelessness Partnership.

The initiative is being funded from the partnership which consists of the Scottish Executive, Glasgow City Council, NHS Glasgow & Clyde and Glasgow Homelessness Network.

The Trauma and Homelessness Team offers expertise for clients who have histories of complex trauma, such as childhood sexual or physical abuse, domestic violence or torture.  They can experience a range of trauma related difficulties, including nightmares and flashbacks, depression, and substance misuse.

The new service can offer advice or discussion by phone to staff working with clients, individual or joint assessments and a number of direct psychological interventions, including individual or group-based therapies.

Dr Anne Douglas, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, who has clinically led on the development of the Trauma and Homelessness Team, said:

"There is a high level of trauma within the homelessness population and so it was agreed to look at a service designed to respond to this client group.

"Traumatic experiences preceding homelessness can include sexual abuse, witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse, andwitnessing other scenes of serious violence.

"Becoming homeless then adds to the disabling effects of the original trauma."

Members of the Personality Disorder and Homelessness Team are experienced in helping people who have difficulty regulating emotions, controlling impulses, and may resort to self-harm.

They also offer discussions and assessments by phone, participate in consultation meetings, and provide direct individual or group psychotherapy.

Dr Andrea Williams, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, leads the Personality Disorder and Homelessness Team.  She explained that patients can feel excluded from health services because the condition is not easily treated and they have difficulty themselves engaging with services

"Dr Williams added: "The team will look at the patient's life history and how the person manages what has happened to them, and use this understanding to help different staff groups working with one individual to use a systematic approach.

We will also work towards helping the individual to improve their understanding of their lives and difficulties."

The services are both based at Carswell House, 5/6 Oakley Terrace, in Glasgow.

Referrals will come from any of the partnership agencies, and it is hoped that through training, consultation and joint working, many more clients may benefit from the teams in addition to those referred for therapy

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