Tag Archives: personal development

Idea: Social Impact Bonds for mental health

The case for improved mental health services

The consequences of poor mental health on human well-being are becoming more widely understood, as are their impacts on other areas of society such as use of drugs, violence, lack of productivity, obesity, lack of creativity, unemployment, smoking and other addictions. Improvements in mental health can cause a cascade of positive multiplier effects throughout society.

Social Impact Bonds as a concept

As noted in my recent post on tackling homelessness, I am fascinated by the potential of Social Impact Bonds to help drive positive social change.

One idea that really resonates with me is the use of Social Impact Bonds to drive positive change in people’s mental health.

Inspiration for the idea

I was inspired by the potential for improvements years ago after reading Healing Without Freud or Prozac by the late Dr David Servan-Schreiber (which was once lent to me by the late Ismena Clout).

In the book, Dr Servan-Schreiber talks about combatting depression with the following:

  1. Meditation and heart coherence
  2. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
  3. Maximising exposure to natural light
  4. Acupuncture
  5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  6. Exercise
  7. Social Interaction and Emotional Communication

Most of these activities can be undertaken by a beneficiary without any qualified medical assistance, which made me think that this would be an ideal area for a for-profit company or social enterprise to provide a service that would support sufferers of depression.

Indeed, people like Tony Robbins have companies focussed on this area with many of these areas being employed.

However, with Tony Robbins, the emphasis is on the beneficiary directly paying for services themselves. This means that many people that are not currently in a financial position to access the services can benefit.

Use of Social Impact Bonds to reward positive outcomes

What if a company or social enterprise could provide beneficiaries with all the benefits of this approach at no cost at the point of use but instead could be rewarded by a government or health service for delivering the beneficial outcomes?

I drafted this paper below on the back of the idea that Social Impact Bonds could be used to reward social enterprises for just this:

Concept Paper_ Social Impact Bonds for Improved Mental Health

Originally I designed this business so that it could be implemented by a Tony Robbins company because I am a big fan of the work they do to help people achieve transformational change in their lives. However, it could be undertaken by any organisation with a mission to help people make positive change in their own lives.

Below is a diagram explaining the value flows in the concept (note in this diagram I referred to beneficiaries as “patients”, which is not a terminology that I would use anymore):

Diagram: Social Impact Bonds for Mental Health

Risks and risk management

One major risk of this approach is that it could contribute to “privatisation of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) by stealth”, with private sector organisations slicing off more and more of the NHS’ workload and sweating the assets for profit in the way that UK train franchises have done.

This could be mitigated by the fact that a lot of these activities are things that can be undertaken by individuals without any form of medical intervention, such as regular exercise, socialising, and improved diet. Therefore these would fall outside of current NHS services and would carry a low risk of this.

Another challenge is whether or not the activities would count as, or have the perception of, being medical treatment and therefore need to be regulated.

For the same reasons above, I think a strong argument could be made that this is not the case. Effective protocols that signpost beneficiaries to NHS services should be in-built so that the NHS and other authorities can have confidence that the social enterprise is not masquerading as a healthcare provider, but a “wellbeing-support provider”.

UK Government support

It’s interesting to see that the UK Government also sees the potential for Social Impact Bonds to stimulate change, as they have launched an Inclusive Economy initiative that includes a funding stream for Social Impact Bonds.

Contact me to discuss

I’d welcome any contact via my contact page from anyone interested in starting a social enterprise in this field. I’d be happy to share my ideas for potential methodologies that exist for the service, as well as potential funding streams to launch a pilot project.

My ICS Project with Raleigh International in Nicaragua: Coffee

5 years ago, I led a team of international volunteers on a climate change project in Nicaragua.

It was run by the British NGO, Raleigh International, under the UK government’s International Citizen Service (ICS) program.

Our project focused on improving the relationship between the communities of El Pajarito and El Tular (near Achuapa) and their environment.

Here is a short 5 minute video of me description our team’s project along with my host family!

GRASP: Getting Results and Solving Problems

What is GRASP?

I recently stumbled across a great framework called GRASP: Getting Results and Solving Problems.

It’s from the Comino Foundation, a foundation set up to support innovation practice. It was set up by Demetrius “Dimitri” Comino, a Greek-Australian engineer and entrepreneur that founded Dexion after settling in the UK post-university. There’s a great biography including a history of his businesses and foundation available here.

The framework can also apparently be referred to as: Getting Results and Seizing Potential  “because it became most effective in helping people to achieve their full potential” according to the Foundation.

How does it work?

Here are the steps as described on the Foundation’s website:

  1. Define your purpose in terms of what you want to achieve
    • NB. Not what you want to do!
  2. When defining purpose, keep asking the question ‘Why?’
    • Ask “What do I really want to achieve?”
  3. Imagine in detail how it will be when you have succeeded
    • Use this picture of success to establish the criteria by which you will know if you have succeeded.
  4. Examine alternative means by which the desired result might be achieved
    • Never allow yourself to think that there is only one way to succeed.
  5. Choose what seems to be the best option and make a plan.
  6. Carry through your chosen plan.
  7. Repeat the process to see if you can do better or have redefined your purpose, which often happens.
  8. Review the process at each stage.

Comments on the framework

I really like this framework as it includes several key tools.

Firstly, the use of Why? is drilling down past our pre-conceived notions and limiting beliefs in the same way as the Five Whys methodology.

Secondly, it is goal focus and not activity focused. This primes us to discard our limited thinking to date and to consider the most efficient way possible to get to our goals.

Thirdly, it contains an element of measurement which is key for the successful completion of any plan.

Finally, the use of visualisation not only makes it real but allows us to actually understand what the goal will feel like when we have achieved it. This useful for motivation, but it is also useful when we take into consideration which of our 6 Human Needs it is actually helping us achieve. This deeper understanding will help us to get closer to what we really need to achieve in order to satisfy our core needs.

My version

I’ve created my own version which reads:

  1. What do I want to achieve?
    • Why?
  2. Visualise in detail the completed goal.
    • Use this vision to establish the success criteria.
  3. Examine alternative means to achieve the desired result.
    • There is always another way!
  4. Choose the best option and make a plan.
  5. Execute.
  6. Repeat.

Download template

You can also download my version of their questions in a handy PDF template here:

GRASP Getting Results and Solving Problems template.