BIGSPD Statement about SIM

BIGSPD Statement about Serenity Integrated Mentoring” (SIM).

BIGSPD calls for the findings of the NHS England Review into Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) to be released.

BIGSPD’s purpose is to provide a forum to consider and explore ideas and experiences in the field of “personality disorder”. This is a highly contested area where complex dynamics are part and parcel of the work. In order to navigate the field, BIGSPD has developed a values-based approach which foregrounds the importance of coproduction, diversity of views and the crucial importance of developing a culture of enquiry . 

We believe that in order to create and maintain a curious culture it is necessary to engage with a range of perspectives so that they may be integrated. We acknowledge this is an imperfect process and one that is continually evolving.

In 2017, the project “Serenity Integrated Mentoring” (SIM) presented its approach to delegates at the annual BIGSPD conference in a 30-minute parallel session. At that time SIM had been widely presented elsewhere and had been recognised by some key institutions.

Since that time, serious concerns have been raised about SIM and its rollout to which NHSE responded with a nationwide review in 2021.   We understood that this would be a “coproduced” review with lived experience practitioners working alongside those with a professional background. As an organisation, BIGSPD values the role of coproduction from beginning to end of a project. 

In 2023 a letter was published by NHS E which included directions to bring SIM to a close. We understand that this does not give a comprehensive account of the review and nor is it supported by the working party involved in it, which included the Stop SIM coalition.

Concerns raised by the Stop SIM Coalition and others, and those highlighted in the R4 ‘File on 4’ programme, are not addressed in the NHSE letter.   These include descriptions of punitive practices, and questions regarding the commissioning and governance of the SIM programme. Furthermore, it does not address the concerns raised by Hampshire Police in 2017 about the quality and accuracy of the data on which the SIM programme had been based.

BIGSPD highly values the place of coproduction as a means to improving care, addressing inequality and reducing discrimination in mental healthcare. We recognise that the process of coproduction is challenging and requires considerable emotional investment but such collaboration can hold great potential when seen through to completion.

Whilst BIGSPD welcomes the statement from NHSE, we believe that in order to create a non-punitive ‘curious’ culture, an account of what has happened in terms of the commissioning and governance of SIM is needed. It is vital that we learn the lessons from the adoption of SIM and believe that it is only through the publication of the key findings of the review that such lessons will be learnt.