Matty has lived experience of mental health problems and is a survivor of suicide. With 17 years’ professional experience working in the field of mental health, he decided to compliment the knowledge he had developed by studying for an MBA with our Business School.
Matty graduated with a distinction overall and distinction in his thesis ‘Socially Progressive Mental Health: An Exploration of how NHS Mental Health Services Can Integrate Asset-Based Approaches Within Mainstream Provision and an Exploration of the Factors Affecting Its Integration to Date’.
The knowledge and skills he learnt during his MBA studies quipped him to launch an inspirational social enterprise in 2019, the First Person Project C.I.C. The not-for-profit community interest company is working within the Liverpool City Region to improve mental health and to have a region wide self-sustaining, creative and socially innovative community approach to mental health action.
Matty has also lectured occasionally at LJMU and is currently completing his Doctorate at Liverpool Business School.
He features in our ‘Humans of LJMU’ series in collaboration with the ‘Humans of Liverpool’ social media account, sharing the stories of the people who make our city, communities and university the vibrant, inclusive place it is in celebration of our bicentenary year.
In his interview he reflects on his own mental health experiences and how the First Person Project C.I.C is striving for a proactive approach to improve mental health across Liverpool.
“Mental health services are set up to work when the person is unwell. All our services are from a health perspective, you can come along if you’re not experiencing poor mental health. It’s proactive rather than reactive. And it’s all citizen led.”
– Matty Caine
Matty’s ‘Humans of LJMU’ interview
“Having a conversation with your neighbour or getting some shopping for your older family member can be extremely powerful and might be all they need. Anyone can do that. The alternative is them waiting on a waiting list for months, only to be told nothing can be done anyway. That ‘asset-based approach’, it’s called, makes communities realise how powerful they are.
“I worked in the NHS as a mental health nurse for over ten years. The health service works in a way where the best clinicians get managerial positions. They get stuck in an office, dealing with numbers and can’t fully help people in need. In 2018, I went through my own mental health challenge following the death of my mum. I was diagnosed with psychotic depression because I was seeing and hearing her. I was on medication; I went to counselling. I took some time away from the NHS and tried to heal. Eventually, I made a proactive decision to come off the medication, and I had this idea for a new way to run a mental health service. One that is run by citizens, not professionals. That is when I started First Person C.I.C.
“Mental health services are set up to work when the person is unwell. All our services are from a health perspective, you can come along if you’re not experiencing poor mental health. It’s proactive rather than reactive. And it’s all citizen led. We provide the infrastructure if called upon, but we don’t force that upon people.
“We have over 70 volunteers from across the city, all building their communities up from the inside out. We are a social enterprise, so whilst we have charitable status, most of our income is self-generated from products and services that we sell, and we, as a team, choose where to spend it. There’s no waiting lists. Think about the context were we’re at. Everyone’s talking about budgets, we don’t. Everyone’s talking about eligibility, we don’t.
“It’s the same approach when I’m doing one-to-one work. These can be kids that have been through a lot of stuff. You can go in there and be like a shrink and talk in professional lingo, and you’re not gonna get very far. Or you can just talk to each other like you’re a kid from Everton, and they’re a kid from Kensington.”