Altogether 25 forms were distributed to REST service users, out of which 17 were returned. The response rate was 68%.
On average, there was a 92.8% satisfaction rate (answer given as ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’) for the Support Group, monthly meditation session, counseling, advocacy service, help from staff and volunteers, physical environment, empowerment and diversity policy of REST at Mind in Camden.
The vast majority- fourteen out of seventeen members (94%) who used the support group in 2016 were either satisfied or very satisfied. One member was neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. For two service users the question was not applicable as they use other parts of the service.
A sample of the comments members gave for the question are below.
(1a.) Please elaborate on your statement, feel free to comment on things you like/dislike about the group. Have you got any suggestions for improvement?
- Client 1: “A place I feel accepted in, a place where I can say anything without being judged.”
- Client 2: “The group is good for those who like it- but I found it very overwhelming, people speaking about their issues. It doesn’t suit my personality.”
- Client 3: “I feel safe, my voice is heard in the group; it is excellent.”
- Client 5: “The group is very unique in the way it is run- quality time to talk is given to everyone. Nobody dominates, it is dealt with very tactically.”
- Client 6: “The group feels organic- things just happen randomly, there is no particular formula which makes it very open, which is a good thing. We get different angles from different people approaching a common denominator- benzodiazepines.”
- Client 12: “I life the community feel of the group. I can come back and feel just as welcome and accepted if I haven’t come in for a while. I’m comfortable sharing in the group, and confident that people will take me seriously. There is a sense of support and trust. The break is helpful.”
1b. Would you like the support group to change its start time or date?
- Yes: 4
- No: 12
- Not applicable: 1
The suggestions below were given by the members who would like to see the support group start time change:
- Client 4: “Sometimes I am unable to come to the group when it is dark- if the group was at daytime, it would be easier for me.”
- Client 5: “An earlier start time would be useful- six rather than seven.”
- Client 7: “Counselling seems to be on Thursdays- it puts me off coming to the Support Group. I’d like the counselling to be on a different day. The 2-3 hour wait between counselling and the Support Group is too long, and might seem overwhelming from the emotions from counselling that may have been brought up.”
1c. The group offers a monthly meditation session.
Out of the members who had used the meditation session, 75% were either satisfied or very satisfied. 25% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Five members had not used the meditation sessions, so considered the question not applicable.
(1c.) Please comment on things you like/dislike about the meditation session, and things you find particularly helpful/difficult. Have you got any suggestions for improvement?
- Client 1: “It was not that helpful for me personally, it is not something that works for me.”
- Client 2: “I found it very relaxing, I was satisfied.”
- Client 3: “I like meditation and have done it before. It’s a good addition to the group and helps me.”
- Client 6: “I’ve done 10 years of yoga. Some of the quotes used during the session I find helpful, but the meditative side is not for me. Words helped, but the physical side is not for me.”
- Client 16: “To me, mindfulness is one of the most powerful tools for addiction problems. Having someone to guide the mindfulness is very useful. It would be good to have more information on other locations where mindfulness is available.”
Out of members using the counselling service, 93% were either satisfied or very satisfied. One member was neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Two members were not using the counselling service.
Although the majority of members who have used counselling were very satisfied, the comments below highlight issues on the length and variability of the service.
(2.) Please comment on things you like/dislike about our counselling service, and things you find particularly helpful/difficult. Have you got any suggestions for improvement?
- Client 1: “I only went for a few sessions. It was not that helpful to me personally. It was a good place for me to talk, but I was saying things I already knew, without getting much feedback. I would have wanted more input or feedback.”
- Client 2: “The counselling was too short-term for me. I am currently searching for long-term therapy.”
- Client 3: “I went to REST counselling a while ago, but I remember it was very helpful. In other therapies I’ve been to it’s been more reflective and they just listen to you, but the technique used by my counsellor at REST was useful to me.”
- Client 4: “Counselling has given me the space that I need to speak one-to-one about my problems. It is a personal space, and it works for me.”
- Client 5: “With insomnia and struggles with time-keeping, reminders for appointments would be good. There are rules for attendance in counselling, so support with getting to the service would be helpful.”
- Client 6: “I had counselling a while ago, I was happy with the sessions I had. I’m currently on the waiting-list for counselling again. I can open up and comfortably share things I wouldn’t share in the Support Group.”
- Client 8: “I found my counsellor at REST more understanding of my situation than other places.”
- Client 12: “I found it very helpful. The waiting list wasn’t too long, which was very beneficial. The counsellor was helpful, supportive; understanding not only about benzodiazepines but about all parts of my life. It was the week-to-week help I needed during a time I was likely to relapse.”
- Client 13: “Sue is amazing, I’ve clicked with her from day one. My last session is coming up and ending counselling will be difficult. It would be good for the sessions to last over a longer period of time but I’m very grateful for what I’ve received.”
- Client 16: “It took me 1-2 sessions to understand how I feel about my situation. It was very helpful. No pressure was put on me, it was very professional.”
3. Managers Letters to GPs/Visits to GPs/Tribunals/Advocacy/Escorts
All of the members who had received Managers Letters to GPs/Visits to GPs/Tribunals/Advocacy/Escorts were satisfied or very satisfied. Six members had not used this service. The comments on this service were overwhelmingly positive.
(3.) Managers letters to GPs: Please comment on things you like/dislike about these services. Please let us know which service you are referring to. If you have any suggestions for improvement, we appreciate your input.
- Client 1: “I got a letter written for my GP about my situation. It was brilliant, exactly what I needed. I was given so much more respect and authority thanks to the letter.”
- Client 3: “Melanie’s letters have helped me. My GP takes MIND very seriously. Melanie has authority- she knows her stuff and benzodiazepines, and her letters are taken into consideration.”
- Client 5: “I got letters to the Margaret Centre about the prescriptions I was on, about how troubled I was. The letter helped me very much; Melanie was kind about helping me with different subjects. This is what makes the group so unique, valuable.”
- Client 6: “I got advocacy letters- they were ideal, letters that could not be argued with. They were also very well worded, better than letters from my doctors- they were human, different from the clinical way doctors write. They talked about the person, the daily, instead of symptoms. I am overwhelmingly grateful.”
- Client 7: “I received a letter from REST that helped me with benefits. It was very helpful because they have no idea how mental health and benzos can affect your ability to concentrate, and what you’re physically able to do.”
- Client 15: “The letters have helped me especially when I lost my job and home. I am in temporary accommodation at the moment which is all thanks to the letters Melanie wrote, with a full explanation on the issues people experience from benzodiazepines.”
- Client 16: “I received advocacy letters – they were just fantastic.”
4. Staff and Volunteers: Overall, how satisfied are you with the support and help you receive from staff and volunteers?
Very satisfied: 16
Not applicable: 1
The members to whom this question applied were unanimously very satisfied with the staff and volunteers’ support and help.
(4.) Please comment on the support and help you receive from staff and volunteers. If you are not satisfied, could you please tell us what additional support you would like us to offer, or how we could improve what we currently offer.
- Client 1: “The staff and volunteers are excellent. I would like to see the service expanded to other boroughs- closer to where I live.”
- Client 2: “They’re wonderful.”
- Client 3: “Something similar to meditation would be good- stretching or a stress-relieving warmup.”
- Client 5: “I’ve been asked to help choose employees. I understand that resources make things difficult- ideally it would be good for there to be resources for a REST service at the Margaret Centre- but I understand there aren’t resources to do that.”
- Client 6: “You do a difficult job. Different types of people come into MIND all the time, and the way you keep a lovely fluid persona is amazing. You face challenging personalities so well.”
- Client 7: Everybody has been wonderful. Jay has been fantastic, everybody has been absolutely brilliant. Something like mindfulness – acupuncture or something similar – would be useful but not very likely possible.”
- Client 12: “The regular contact is so helpful. I’ve taken part in some events with REST, and been happy to get suggestions about anything going on that I can take part in. The staff and volunteers are open and never judgmental.”
- Client 15: “The support has been immensely amazing. The volunteers are so dedicated and always give me inspiration to put myself forward. Hopefully I will soon.”
5. Physical environment: How satisfied are you with the physical environment of MIC i.e. the group room, patio, reception area and entrance?
A mixed response was given to member satisfaction with the physical environment of Mind in Camden.
81% (thirteen members) to whom the question applied were satisfied or very satisfied. 19% (three members) were dissatisfied with the physical environment. One member considered the question not applicable.
(5.) Please write any suggestions for improvement, or things you are like/dislike about the environment.
- Client 1: “MIC is hard to find and access. The gate makes me nervous, and it is not welcoming, especially for newcomers. The bins in the alleyway smell. The Support Group room and accessibility of the kitchen are good.”
- Client 2: “I would like MIC to receive more money to make improvements, to make the surroundings more visually attractive.”
- Client 3: “I like everything apart from the entrance: it is difficult to get into the building. Inside, the room is lovely and serene.”
- Client 5: “They make the room as nice as they can- it is comfortable and welcoming. They make good use of the facilities that they have. The way the Support Group is set out in a circle means everyone gets to speak.”
- Client 6: “I like the environment- it would be unrealistic to expect something more serene as it is located in Camden. I wouldn’t expect it to be artificial- it’s quite colourful and makes it feel real. The outside garden is great for a smoke and a coffee- and being surrounded by people living their lives, I feel connected to the local area.”
- Client 7: “There is noise in the area which can be disruptive during meditation. But as the building is in London, noise is inevitable. Candles and the seating area make the space nice.”
- Client 9: “The entrance is untidy and often smelly.”
- Client 12: “The stairs are fine even though I have a disability. Sometimes the room gets crowded when there are a lot of people at the Support Group – but it’s not always that way, most of the time it’s fine.”
- Client 13: “The kitchen and counselling rooms are nice.”
- Client 14: “More comfy chairs.”
6.Empowerment: Do you feel that through being involved with MIC as an organisation, your self-confidence and self-esteem have improved, and your independence has been promoted?
It has helped me a lot: 12
It has helped me a bit: 3
Not applicable: 2
None of the members answered the options “it has hindered me a bit” or “it has hindered me a lot.”
(6.) Empowerment, self-confidence: Please elaborate, or give suggestions for improvement, if possible.
- Client 1: “MIC has given me a lot of confidence. Before attending the group I felt isolated, but meeting people and their positive feedback gave me confidence. I also volunteered for REST- I gave a talk and shared my experience with others. That was very important to me.”
- Client 2: “It is reassuring in itself that a service like MIC exists.”
- Client 3: “I was more active with MIC in the past, the support was there when I used the service actively.”
- Client 5: “The group has helped me. Melanie is good at checking in and asking how people are doing, and it is genuinely caring – the emotions come from an honest place.”
- Client 6: “My confidence dips at times as I am waiting for a new counsellor. I have taken lots away from the years of assistance from Mel and the team.”
- Client 7: “I’ve been involved for 15 years, and have been able to drop my medication significantly. I would not have been able to do that without Melanie and her assistance. The group has had a positive effect on me as well.”
- Client 10: “REST is an invaluable resource.”
- Client 12: “I’m grateful of the good support network, and the chances offered to me to get in touch with the community. The group helps me feel accepted when I’m struggling. The mixture of the group helps me with general mental health, not just benzos.”
- Client 13: “12 weeks of counselling is not enough to make that determination; not a long enough period to answer the question.”
- Client 15: “I’ve learned to deal with my problems in a less damaging way. I now understand how to remember to appreciate my own self-worth and confidence.”
7. Diversity: Do you feel the service is relevant to and respectful of your ethnic and cultural needs?
All of the members to whom this question applied were satisfied or very satisfied with diversity, seeing the service as relevant and respectful of their ethnic and cultural needs.
(7.) Please write any suggestions for improvement or what you like or dislike about our diversity policy and practice
- Client 3: “The group has always been diverse when I’ve used it and it has been fine.”
- Client 5: “Diversity is very recognised, the place is respectful to everyone.”
- Client 6: “I’m satisfied. This goes without saying. We’re a mixed group.”
- Client 13: “The environment is totally neutral, as it should be.”
- Client 15: “I am black and have never felt excluded at all in the whole 4 years I have been coming. It’s a kind of group where we all look after each other and never judge anyone – the connection is so tight and beautiful.”
8. Where did you hear about our project?
The most common way surveyed of finding out about REST was through internal referral through MIND or Mind in Camden (5). GP referral, self-search and -referral, and referral through other services were equally common ways of finding REST (3 replies each). The other services through which the members heard about REST included Tavistock, SHP (Single Homeless Project) and BAT (Battle Against Tranquillisers).
9. Any other views and ideas: Please write any other comments, suggestions or ideas you might have about the services provided by the REST project.
- Client 1: “The REST service deals with an important issue. The service has a wider value.”
- Client 2: “The status of mental health help in this country is poor. I would like to see organisations helping mental health to receive more money, to improve the quality and quantity of the services.”
- Client 3: “Some form of meditative exercise or gentle stretching would be nice to include in the Support Group.”
- Client 5: “A women’s group would be great to have. I couldn’t rate the group highly enough. It is very relevant and unique and has helped me massively.”
- Client 6: “Thank you very much for everything- thank you. This is a sacred place- it’s not the same anywhere else. The benzodiazepine-specific angle connects to me.”
- Client 10: “It might be useful to organise some public talks/presentations from REST members and organisers; inviting local relevant people and GPs, funders and other interested people.”
- Client 13: “More funding for more counsellors.”
- Client 14: “This project has helped me So much its Difficult for me to express it. No one understands what benzos can do to your very soul like the people in my support group. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
- Client 15: “I was able to halve my medication dose. Thank you MIND.”
- Client 16: “I wish I had known about REST years ago. I’m incredibly grateful for the service, especially the out of borough access.”
- Client 17: “REST needs more awareness, more visibility.”
- Client 18: “I am so grateful for this service. When I have done talks I realised how important it is to be a part of direct movements with sharing what we do at REST. I am proud to be a member. The only thing I don’t like is the fact that some people have to pay (out of borough). I feel sorry for them especially if they’re not working. Overall this group will always be a life saviour. Thank you Mel, Jay + volunteers.
10. Please rank the 3 most useful activities below that have helped you with any issues you have experienced relating to benzodiazepines.
- Support Group
- Monthly meditation session
- Physical exercise
- Support from loved ones
- Online material
- Other: _______________________________________________________________
Fourteen members answered this question.
- Support Group, Nutrition, Online material
- Support Group, Counselling, Support from loved ones
- Counselling, Support Group, Other (Speaking to Melanie)
- Counselling, Support Group, Other (MIND events; letters to GP)
- Support Group, Counselling, Other (Speaking to Melanie on the phone)
- Support Group, Physical exercise, Nutrition
- Support Group, Counselling, Online material
- Support Group, Counselling, Monthly meditation session
- Support Group, Counselling, Support from loved ones
- Support Group, Counselling, Support from loved ones
- Support Group, Counselling, Other (hydrotherapy)
- Support Group, Physical exercise, Monthly meditation session
- Support Group, Physical exercise, Nutrition
- Support Group, Counselling, Nutrition