The NHS Open Dialogue Project

NELFT is leading on a national multi-centre Open Dialogue pilot that seeks to transform the model of health care provided to patients with major mental health problems in the UK. It involves working with the whole family or network, rather than just the individual, and equipping staff of all disciplines with the key skills to do this, and thus effect change at deeper levels.

What is Open Dialogue?

Open Dialogue is a model of mental health care pioneered in Finland that that involves a  consistent family and social network approach where all healthcare staff receive training in family therapy and related psychological skills. All treatment is carried out via whole system/network meetings which always include the patient.

The Open Dialogue approach is a different approach to much of mental health care in the UK, but it has been discussed for several years with interest by several NHS Trusts around the country.

Open Dialogue was pioneered in Finland and has since has since been taken up in a number of countries around the world, including much of the rest of Scandinavia, Germany and several states in America.

International results

Some of the results so far from nonrandomised trials are striking. For example, 72 per cent of those with first episode psychosis treated via an Open Dialogue approach returned to work or study within two years, despite significantly lower rates of medication and hospitalisation compared to treatment as usual.