It is important to get the MHP programme off to a good start. It is likely to be a new process in most settings, and MHP projects are not often high on the organisations list of priorities.
It is desirable that the MHP project is integrated into the ongoing stream of organisational activities as smoothly as possible, and that the early activities of establishing MHP are both soundly and broadly based.
As you move through the activities in this phase it will become clear that there is a philosophy underlying the MHP process. Setting up the process should involve using the best practices from project management - it should be treated as any other organisational change project would be. These principles of approach are reflected in the five activities of this phase – How to build collaboration; How to communicate; Scoping the project; Existing activities; and Developing a project team.
A key success factor for an MHP project is building a committed project team which has a clear brief to manage and implement the project. This team should have representatives of the major stakeholders in the setting, as well as people with the expertise to contribute meaningfully to the development of the project.
The project cannot proceed if it is not actively supported by the major stakeholders in your organisation. A significant function of this phase is to build support for creating an MHP project. This means getting the visible approval of top management, middle management and representatives of the setting. The project team will have to set up appropriate structures to support the MHP project e.g. communications channels, reporting relationships, policy development structures. These may be achieved by adapting existing structures or by setting up new structures. Finally, one of the aims of this phase is to identify possible areas which the MHP project might address by obtaining the opinion of stakeholders.
This phase of the MHP process can often be one of the longest phases, particularly where it is difficult to gain support for the project. Getting started demands persistence on your part and a good knowledge of how projects of any kind develop within your organisational setting, be it a school, a workplace or a residential care facility.
- To generate real and visible commitment to the MHP process
- To establish a project team
- To establish appropriate structures for the MHP process
- To develop a view of possible areas which the MHP project will address
- To monitor and assess how well this phase was run
Types of Tools Relevant for this Phase
The kinds of tools which are relevant during this phase include:
- Reports and generic information about mental health promotion
- Background information about mental health promotion
- Information about the target group
- Tools that enhance the capacity to build up collaboration
- Tools that improve communications with the target group
- Tools that help develop a project team
What Needs to be Done and How to Do It
There are five main activities which take place during the Preparations Phase which are listed above. These activities do not necessarily run consecutively, many can run concurrently, and the order in which they take place is not always fixed. Tools to support these activities are available in the tools database.