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  1. Family Intervention for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder Course

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    We currently have a limited number of places available for our 10-day Health Education England (HEE) funded “Family Interventions for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder” course starting on 19th June 2023.

    The course adheres to the HEE ‘National Curriculum: Family interventions for psychosis and bipolar disorder’ covering; the theory and practice of Behavioural Family Therapy, provision of carer psycho-education and support, developing a family sensitive organisation and the supervision of others in the application of BFT for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder.  The course is delivered over a 12 month period, including 10 days training online via Teams and 20 hours of group supervision provided by Meriden Family Programme.  For more details and course dates please see our brochure HEE (Y3 C1) Cohort June 2023 Brochure.

    If you are interested in this excellent opportunity, please contact Julia Danks: julia.danks@nhs.net

    Please be aware the course is only open to applicants based in England. Before an application can be accepted, we are required to confirm the availability of funding for your specific organisation with HEE, once confirmed we can proceed with the application.

  2. Carers week is taking place from 6th to 12th June 2022

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    Carers week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution carers make to families and communities. Details about carers week and information about support for carers can be found by visiting the Carers UK website https://www.carersuk.org; information for carers is also available on the Carers Trust Solihull website  https://www.solihullcarers.org/carersweek/

    Information and support for carers is also available on our website.

  3. Research Participation Opportunity

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    The Meriden Family Programme would like to invite you to participate in a current piece of research, outlined below.

    “Family workers’ experiences of delivering Behavioural Family Therapy (BFT) to service-users (and their families) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and another mental health condition.” 

    What is the purpose of this research? 

    The current research will explore clinicians’ perspectives around delivering BFT to families of a service-user with ASD and another mental health condition (specifically, one presenting with psychosis). The ultimate aim is to identify ways in which BFT can be better implemented and the relevant training conducted more effectively.

    What are the requirements to participate? 

    The only requirement is that you have delivered BFT to at least one service-user (and their family) with comorbid ASD and another mental health condition (presenting with psychosis). If you have had contrasting experiences (i.e. positive with one family and negative with another), this would be especially advantageous, but is most certainly not essential.

    What will happen/what will I be asked to do? 

    You will be asked a series of questions relating to your experiences during an online or telephone interview, which will be recorded and subsequently transcribed. Please note that: (i) interviews should take no longer than half an hour and (ii) recordings will be kept securely and your personal details will only be shared with necessary parties overseeing the research.

    Who will be conducting the research/interview? 

    The interview (and, later in the process, data analysis) will be conducted by a research student at the University of Birmingham, under the supervision of the Meriden team.

    What if I wish to withdraw? 

    The Meriden team supports the practice of protecting participants and their emotional well- being. Should you wish to withdraw at any time, please be aware that you are free to do so without penalty.

    What happens afterwards? 

    A report outlining the findings of the study will be written, which you are welcome to have a copy of.

    If you have any further questions, or would like to get involved, please contact Lucy Moid (lucy-anne.moid@nhs.net).

  4. Family Intervention for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder training 2021/22

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    What is the training?

    Psychological therapies for people with severe mental health problems (PTSMHP) are a key part of the integrated offer for adults, as set out in the NHS Long-Term Plan. The Mental Health Implementation Plan and subsequent Community Mental Health Framework for Adults and Older Adults, provides a new framework to ensure services are integrated, “place based” and designed to meet specific local need.

    For those experiencing severe and/or complex mental health problems, the Framework advocates the provision of NICE-recommended psychological therapies and views these as critical in giving people the best chance to get better and to stay well. Funding to commission new courses has been made available to Health Education England (HEE) through NHS England (NHSE) and a national curriculum has been agreed for the training based on the best available evidence.

    The Meriden Family Programme is one of 4 training providers commissioned to deliver across England and will be offering a 12-month programme via Microsoft Teams to staff working in community adult or older adult services. The training will equip practitioners with the skills to deliver evidence based face-to-face FI sessions, as well as remote working where necessary.

    Please read HEE Cohorts 3 4 Brochure Brochure information with training application details.

    For further details on the course, please email us at bsmhft.meriden@nhs.net

    How to apply

    Applications can be made by submitting the booking form to bsmhft.meriden@nhs.net and we will then forward applications to HEE for authorisation and confirmation.

  5. Family Interventions for Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder training 2021/2022

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    What is the training?

    Psychological therapies for people with severe mental health problems (PTSMHP) are a key part of the new integrated offer for adults, as set out in the NHS Long-Term Plan. Funding to commission new courses has been made available to Health Education England (HEE) through NHS England (NHSE). A national curriculum has been agreed for the training based on the best available evidence.

    The Meriden Family Programme is one of the 4 training providers commissioned to deliver across England and will be offering a 12-month programme via Microsoft Teams.

    Please open and read HEE FI Flyer information for training application details.

    For further details please contact:

    • HEE:   Peter Rolland, Senior Project Manager, Mental Health Programme
      Health Education England
      Contact via MS Teams and Skype
      email:  peter.rolland@hee.nhs.uk
    • Meriden Family Programme:  bsmhft.meriden@nhs.net


  6. Existing BFT trainers and supervisors please read: Family Intervention Training for CMHTs and Health Education England (HEE)

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    Health Education England (HEE) has developed a national curriculum for family intervention training for CMHTs which states that the training they will be commissioning from approved training organisations will be required to:

    • have a minimum of 10 taught days
    • take place over 12 months
    • include regular supervision
    • have some form of assessment
    • include the topics within the curriculum

    The national curriculum only relates at present to CMHTs for adult and older adult services and not to Early Intervention services. The course does not enable participants to train other staff, but does enable them to supervise their colleagues within their CMHT. If you have completed BFT training then you do not need to attend this training course in order to work with families. Existing trainers and supervisors do not need to attend this training in order to continue to train and supervise colleagues in BFT.

    The course will consist of the fundamental elements of BFT, plus aspects of the trainers and supervisors course and the Caring for Carers course which may be familiar to a lot of trainers.

    The Meriden Family Programme welcome the opportunity to be one of four approved providers across England and see this as a way of looking to ensure that family intervention becomes embedded in CMHTs, which for a considerable number of areas has been challenging.

    There have been a number of discussions that have taken place with trainers and supervisors from across the country about the current status of the five day BFT training.

    The message that we are sending out is that you should go ahead with any training plans that you have. If the training and supervision you provide is working well for your organisation then carry on as usual.

    We will be involved in ongoing discussions with HEE and others regarding developing standards for CMHTs in the future and will keep trainers and supervisors informed about any further changes.

    Martin Atchison – Acting Head,
    Meriden Family Programme


  7. Feedback from Facilitators & Families about Online Caring for Carers Experience in Nova Scotia

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    Feedback from Facilitators & Families about Online Caring for Carers Experience

    By Dani Himmelman
    Families Matter In Mental Health
    Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia


    Two online programs were delivered in Nova Scotia, Canada, between May and July 2020:

    The Covid-19 outbreak has prevented in-person Caring for Carers programs (known in Nova Scotia as Families Matter in Mental Health) from being offered since March, 2020. We recognized that families need support now more than ever and that Covid may prohibit in-person programs for some time. With support from the Nova Scotia Health Authority, we decided to offer an online version of the program via Zoom. Some clinicians expressed concerns about the technical aspects of offering the program online and about staying true to the model. Some were unable to be involved because of Covid related additional work and home responsibilities. Five facilitators (3 clinicians and 2 family members) agreed to take on the challenge of delivering 2 online programs between May and July 2020.

    During program planning, facilitators identified some concerns and each was addressed: 

    1. Lack of familiarity with online platforms and technical aspects of Zoom (facilitators & participants) – one facilitator took the lead on technical aspects and facilitators did a practice session together. The program coordinator contacted each participant who had registered for the planned in-person programs to discuss the logistics of the online format and to provide general support. Families were sent a tutorial on how to download Zoom and join a meeting. In session 1 screen options were reviewed with families (i.e. mute, hand raising, chat space etc.)
    2. Possible privacy concerns – only families registered for the program received the meeting link and all participants entered a waiting room and were identified before being admitted.
    3. Barriers that exclude some families (i.e. reluctance to attend online, inadequate computer skills/internet connection) – it seemed preferable to offer an online program to families able to attend rather than offer nothing for an extended period of time. It was noted that there are also barriers to accessing in-person programs (ex. geography and travel).
    4. Maintaining the integrity of the program – the goal was to deliver the program as much as possible in the same way as an in-person program (same agendas, session content, handouts etc.).
    5. Building rapport, engaging families, and encouraging discussion in and online format – participant numbers were low and families were asked to join with video which helped everyone connect.
    6. Practical concerns (i.e. access to a white board/flipchart, practicing communication and problem-solving skills, providing handouts) – white board and screen sharing options were used and breakout rooms are suggested for skills practice. Handouts were emailed before or after each session. Short power point slides for agendas and some content were used by 1 group for a visual reference.
    7. Group size for online programs – numbers were limited to less than 10 families per group to reduce logistical challenges and support a positive experience for everyone during this first attempt at online delivery. Two programs were run with a combined total of 14 families.
    8. Number of sessions – the program was reduced from 11 to 9 two-hour sessions, due to time constraints. This limited the content covered. We would avoid that whenever possible in the future.
    9. Hosting Zoom and handling IT concerns – The Schizophrenia Society (contracted by the Department of Health and Wellness to coordinate the provincial Families Matter program) funded and hosted the Zoom platform and provided all IT support.

    Participant Attendance: (9 sessions in total)

    9 sessions – 8/14 people (57%)
    8 sessions – 3/14 people (21%)
    7 sessions – 2/14 people (14%)
    4 sessions – 1/14 people (7%)
    Overall attendance was 90% and attendance at 7 or more of the 9 sessions was 92%. This is as good or better than our in-person programs.

    Post Group Participant Feedback:

    All 14 families said they would recommend the online program if an in-person program was not available. When asked to rate their experience of attending the group online – 1 person rated it as average, 6 rated it as good, and 7 rated it as excellent. Feedback for individual sessions did not reflect a change in positive/negative responses compared to in-person programs offered in the past.

    Comments from families:
    “Program was excellent. I am glad I was part of this experience. Thank you.”
    “It was a good experience. For some people, a Zoom format may even be more suitable than in-person and it would be nice if both formats could be offered.”
    “Was able to put things into practice during the course and debrief about our experiences and effectiveness.”
    “I am glad that I participated in the program. The facilitators were knowledgeable, approachable and supportive. I liked how they spoke of personal situations as it normalized what the participants were experiencing. I will definitely refer back to handouts that I received, particularly those dealing with communication skills. It was good to meet others who are facing the challenges of having a family member(s) living with mental illness.”

    Post Group Facilitator Feedback:

    Facilitators were amazed at how quickly participants connected. The online format did not limit participation and discussion. Visual presence affects engagement and participation, so it is recommended families use video when possible. Practicing skills poses similar challenges in online and in-person groups, so breakout rooms are advisable. A size limit of 3 to 4 families per facilitator is suggested. It was helpful to assign 1 facilitator each session to monitor the ‘room’ (i.e. facial expressions, raised hands, chat box, admitting/readmitting people). Overall, facilitators were impressed by how well the online format worked, how user friendly it was, and by the flexibility it adds to program delivery.

    Advantages of In-person vs Online Programs (gathered from a post-group Network Meeting discussion among trained clinician and family facilitators):

    In-person programs:

    • allow time for informal conversations before & after sessions & during break (starting online sessions early/staying online after close/connecting people via email, can offset this somewhat)
    • allow for private conversations (for online programs, this can be arranged, but not as naturally)
    • do not require technology skills or reliable computer/internet connections (families without computers/reliable internet may be able to access online programs via computers in a local health clinic or library)
    • allow participants to speak freely if the person they support lives in their home

    Online programs:

    • remove geographic barriers (programs are not limited by driving distance, areas where trained facilitators are located, inadequate registration numbers in local areas)
    • eliminate weather-related travel issues and travel time
    • allow a level of anonymity (i.e. can attend a program outside one’s local community)
    • eliminate child care concerns for affected families
    • provide a viable option when in-person programs are not possible (i.e. Covid-19 restrictions) and add flexibility to program delivery


    There are advantages to both in-person and online programs. The Zoom facilitators recommend the online program as a good option. The post program facilitator Network Meeting discussion suggested that many facilitators are interested in the online option and that offering a combination of both in-person and online programs is worth considering going forward. Many facilitators are gaining online meeting experience since Covid-19 has restricted in-person meetings. This has helped it become a more acceptable and viable option for facilitators and families alike.

  8. Caring for Yourself

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    Caring for Yourself is a self-help workbook in eight parts.  The resource is available online and is free to download.

    To download the guide please click on the links below

    Icon of Caring For Yourself

    Caring for Yourself


  9. Coronavirus: Information

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    We hope that you and your family are well and keeping safe.

    We ask that you please follow the government guidelines to avoid going out of your home unless for essential items, food and/or medication or to work if you are unable to work from home.  For more information on the government guidance, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

    We would also like to take this opportunity to reassure everyone that calls to the Meriden office are being monitored and redirected to Martin Atchison, Acting Head of the Programme.

    We have a number of training courses planned, but due to current circumstances it is impossible to be clear whether these will go ahead. We will be posting regular updates on this website as the guidance changes. We will also be posting some guidance soon about continuing to support families in contact with services under the current restrictions.

    Be kind, stay safe.

    Martin Atchison
    Acting Head of the Programme

  10. Meriden welcomes colleagues from Japan

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    The Meriden Family Programme welcomed our colleagues from Japan who were here to attend the Training for Trainers and Supervisors course.

    Pictured here are, from left,

    Dr Kumiko Morita , Professor, Rissho University, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
    Mr Peter Woodhams, Carer Consultant, Meriden Family Programme
    Ms Mariko Kamikubo, Mental Health Social Worker, Peerclinic, Hamamatsucity, Japan and
    Professor Masako Fujiwara, University of Fukishama Gakuin, Fukushima, Japan

    Due to the typhoon in Japan, our colleagues were delayed in returning home due to flights being cancelled. Peter was kind enough to pay a visit on the Monday after the course to talk about the involvement of families in mental health services.

    We are hoping that the relationship between Meriden and colleagues in Japan continues to flourish.

    Martin Atchison
    Deputy Head
    Meriden Family Programme