Healing the Wounds of a Broken System: Restoring Trust and Transforming Help-Seeking

By Caroline Harroe (Harmless CEO)

When individuals finally find their way to organisations like Harmless (www.harmless.org.uk), it is often after enduring years of being passed from pillar to post within the broken mental health system. At Harmless, our primary focus becomes rectifying the damage caused by this systemic failure, rebuilding trust, challenging preconceptions about services, and changing someone’s perception of help-seeking. This critical work is not without its challenges and requires time and effort to address the inefficiencies ingrained within the entire system. In this article, we delve deeper into the impact of a broken system and explore how we strive to create a compassionate, client-focused approach to support those in need.

Rectifying the Damage of a Broken System
The individuals who come to Harmless have often experienced a cascade of disappointments and setbacks within the mental health system. Our role becomes twofold: addressing the immediate issues someone is facing while also rectifying the damage inflicted by years of systemic failings. We understand that trust has been eroded and that the road to recovery requires a commitment to rebuilding that trust. By providing a safe and empathetic space, we aim to restore faith in the system and offer a different experience of support.

Building Trust and Challenging Preconceptions
Changing someone’s view of help-seeking is a complex process that demands patience and understanding. Many individuals have developed preconceived notions about mental health services based on their previous encounters. At Harmless, we approach each person with compassion, actively listening to their experiences and validating their emotions. We acknowledge the frustrations and disappointments they have faced, ensuring they feel heard and respected. By challenging the negative preconceptions and demonstrating the genuine care we provide, we strive to rebuild trust and create a solid foundation for their healing journey.

Lengthening and Tailoring Interventions
We recognise that the work we do goes beyond addressing someone’s initial mental health struggles. We acknowledge the need to repair the damage inflicted by the system, which requires time and tailored interventions. Rushing through the process or shortening interventions would only further exacerbate individuals’ difficulties and undermine their progress. By taking a comprehensive and personalised approach, we can address both the immediate concerns and the underlying consequences of systemic failings, ultimately fostering lasting change and resilience.

Evidence and the Call for Systemic Improvement
Extensive research and studies have highlighted the detrimental effects of a broken mental health system on individuals seeking support. The evidence reinforces the urgent need for systemic improvement to minimise the harm caused by prolonged delays, inadequate coordination and limited resources. At Harmless, we actively contribute to the discourse on mental health system reform, advocating for changes that prioritise comprehensive care, early intervention and seamless transitions between services.

At Harmless, we are acutely aware of the immense challenges individuals face when they finally reach us after being bounced around within a broken mental health system. Our commitment to healing is centred on rectifying the damage, rebuilding trust, challenging preconceptions and tailoring interventions to address the consequences of systemic failings. We understand that time and compassion are essential ingredients for fostering lasting change and enabling individuals to reclaim their lives. By advocating for systemic improvements and providing client-focused support, we strive to create a future where no one is left to suffer the consequences of a broken system and all individuals can access the care they deserve.