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Hundreds back our plea to help save vital mental health helpline

09:30 18 February 2016

Jane Durrant who uses the Norwich Mind support line. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jane Durrant who uses the Norwich Mind support line. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2016

Hundreds of people have already signed up to our campaign to save a vital mental health helpline, with several telling how the service had directly saved lives.

Paul Farmer, centre, national Mind CEO, cuts the ribbon to open Norwich Mind's new Wellbeing Centre at Norwich Cathedral Close. From left, Norwich Mind CEO, Amanda Hedley; patron William Armstrong; patron Lady Dannatt; and chairman of the trustees, Kevin Long. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPaul Farmer, centre, national Mind CEO, cuts the ribbon to open Norwich Mind's new Wellbeing Centre at Norwich Cathedral Close. From left, Norwich Mind CEO, Amanda Hedley; patron William Armstrong; patron Lady Dannatt; and chairman of the trustees, Kevin Long. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Our We Mind campaign was launched yesterday after it emerged the support line, run by the Norwich and Central Norfolk branch of the charity Mind, was to lose its funding. This is despite the fact that it saves lives, fills a recognised gap in mental health care, takes around 800 calls a month and costs just £120,000 a year to run.

So far, more than 800 people have signed the online petition, via our website, with dozens more registering their disgust using the Twitter hashtag #WeMind.

Harriett Powell, 29, from Bowthorpe, who is bipolar and uses the line about five times a week, said: “The line has supported me through some very, very difficult times and it helps so much to be able to pick up the phone and speak to someone who knows me and knows about my condition.

“It seems you hear all this talk nationally of money going into mental health, but then locally services like this are cut. David Cameron needs to know what is really going on. There already isn’t enough support out there for people suffering and I’d be devastated if this service went.”

The line was funded until last summer by Norfolk’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), however they said it was only meant as a temporary measure. The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) stepped in to provide cash until March 31, 2016, but neither said they could continue to support it.

Backing our campaign, Norman Lamb, North Norfolk MP, said: “There is strong evidence that it works. I applauded Norfolk health leaders when they established this line. I am now dismayed that this service could be lost. It is shortsighted in the extreme. More people will end up in crisis needing more acute care at enormous cost.”

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “This is yet another case of the health commissioners at the CCGs refusing to fund mental health services properly. The mental health crisis shows that NSFT cannot provide essential services without sufficient money. The CCGs continue to divert resources away from mental health.”

Has the service helped you? Email David Powles at david.powles@archant.co.uk

LADY DANNATT, A PATRON OF THE NORWICH AND CENTRAL NORFOLK BRANCH OF MIND, WRITES...

How ironic, and how deeply sad, that we see the announcement that the mental health line operated by Mind Norwich and Central Norfolk is to lose its funding, on the very day our PM promised an extra £1bn to be pumped into our long neglected mental health service.

For many, I fear, this cash injection has come far too late. Two mental health charities I am involved with have had to suspend their services since the New Year; and, tragically, I fear another may be forced to follow suit very shortly.

These organisations are, quite simply, a lifeline for so many of those living in towns, villages and rural communities across the county.

Without them, men and women of all ages and all backgrounds will simply retreat back indoors, with their suffering, their anxieties and their fears unheard and unaddressed.

Some will attempt to take their lives as a way of eroding their loneliness and despair. Others will self medicate by well recognised methods.

There will be a significant rise in self harm and surviving charities such as MAP and the Samaritans will be under pressure as never before – as, of course, will our NHS.

The tragedy is that we are looking at such relatively tiny amounts of money to keep open mental health charities that have fine and proven track records in transforming the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

The suspension of Sweet Arts last month in Norwich, is a disaster for its clients – and once lost, extraordinarily difficult to bring back.

The Wensum Group, based in Fakenham, has been providing companionship advice and activities for those suffering with mental health difficulties for nearly 30 years, as have many similar organisations across Norfolk.

All these small, but life transforming charities are now fighting for their very survival.

Last year I was privileged enough to spend a day shadowing our ambulance service.

The very first blue light call of the day came from a lady who, it transpired, just wanted to see a friendly face.

Last week I asked another lady, who depends three days a week on another excellent mental health charity, how

she had spent Christmas Day?

“Well, I made a peanut butter sandwich and just got through it best I could,” came the reply.

If the charity supporting this lady closes, she will be alone making her sandwich every single day of the week.

So what is to be done? We know that central and local government seem to have run out of money, so as a community we now have to look to ourselves. I just hope that individuals, trusts and foundations, who may have money to disburse, will look favourably upon requests from mental health charities.

In this area of need a little helps; but most importantly regular and established funding, can help so much more.

It is this continuity of funding that will make a real difference to those who need it most.

CASE STUDY

Jane Durrant, 52, a mother-of-two from Heartsease, suffers from multiple mental health conditions and relies on the service most nights.

“It is a lifesaver, they are absolutely fantastic. They get to know you, spend time talking to you and you get to trust them.

“I often feel so miserable but when I hear that familiar voice at the end of the line it makes such a difference, I don’t feel alone.

“You just don’t get that from anywhere else.

“I haven’t taken an overdose for six months, and that’s a big thing for me.

“That is because I am able to talk to Mind, it makes that much difference.

“If they are not there, the suicide rate will go up, I am sure of it. I don’t just fear for myself, but everybody else.

“I spend most of my time indoors and having that outlet provides such a release.

“They are making such a big mistake.

“This will put extra pressure on the police, A&E, the 111 service and The Samaritans, which all already have enough to deal with.

“If it was to go it would be like losing my family all in one.”

3 comments

  • Dear Christine Robinson, you are absolutely correct about the shoddy service and about how it has been the case for years and years, not just under this Government. My own experiences of rubbish crisis care started when I first moved to Norfolk 13 years ago, and there have been numerous occasions since where I have been effectively been abandoned as so many who need this Help Line feel they have too. It has been happening under many different Governments. Whilst you are also right in highlighting the deafening silence coming from the “Campaign to save mental health services in Norfolk & Suffolk” with their lack of support for the Help Line (I feel this is something which the EDP should question) I will praise Clive Lewis. He is supporting the Help Line, having signed the petition and has challenged Chloe Smith to sign it too. However, why is there silence from that Campaign? The people at the fore of that Campaign are ideologically driven; if it’s not run by the NHS they don’t like it and won’t support it. Partnership working they hate. One only needs to look at an article in the EDP from last week where that Campaign’s anonymous spokesperson (why anonymous?) said it was an example of ““This is yet another case of the health commissioners at the CCGs refusing to fund mental health services properly. The mental health crisis shows that NSFT cannot provide essential services without sufficient money. The CCGs continue to divert resources away from mental health.” Not one word about the Help Line being important, nay vital, or about their supporting the Help Line. Why? If it’s not within the NHS they don’t like it, even it saves lives. Oh, and one of the people who is at the fore of that Campaign has a deep seated hatred of Mind for some reasons, or anything good they do he will not support. They go on and on about mortality rates at NSFT but will not support something which keeps people alive. The hypocrisy is there to be seen. Perhaps they would like to answer. Do you want to support a Help Line which keeps people alive, and thereby do something positive, or do you just want to keep complaining, and thereby be constantly negative? Take care, Jonas Lukosevicius

    Report this comment

    JonastheLith

    Monday, February 22, 2016

  • I ring mind every day, I have borderline personality disorder, emotionally unstable personality disorder ,suicidal ideation, bipolar and schitzophrenia, stress and anxiety, everyday I feel like this, none of us asked for these conditions, and after 22 overdoses and talking to mind, I stopped overdosing, (paracetamol),if mind closes this will then push us to ,move as I would say down the chain ie 111 101 who have a mental health team. and 999, this has happen to me before mind line opened, this will mean more frontline ambulances, police paramedics, and in my case helicopters,(all called by the wonderful HELLesdon crisis team who are useless and pass every call too the police without telling you) which will cost the tax payer more, all because we have illnesses, we didn't ask to be like this, after talking too mind there has been no police, no ambulances, helicopters etc, all my calls are when life just gets too much and I ring from the train track, just don't know whats going to happen when that line goes dead ,ITS A LIFE SAVER, Cameron not a chat line,

    Report this comment

    morello

    Thursday, February 18, 2016

  • If the anonymous spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk really believes having an essential service such as this Help Line is important why is the Campaign not promoting the cause on their website in order to get the message out there? Do they support the Help Line or not? Or have they just used the opportunity to criticise the CCGs rather than support a vital Help Line being kept open, which at the moment would be much more constructive?

    Report this comment

    JonastheLith

    Thursday, February 18, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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