A pioneering scheme to help people with mental health conditions was launched at the Open Building, in Bank Plain, Norwich yesterday.

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LifeHelp is being hailed as a way of providing individually-tailored support services to patients with a range of conditions.

Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind has developed its new approach to care after listening to the 3,000 people it helps every year.

Peter Gianfrancesco, the charity’s chief executive, said: “LifeHelp is our response to the fact that in the health and social care sectors, funders are moving away from giving contracts to organisations to help people and instead giving budgets to individuals to buy the services that help them.

“LifeHelp offers a range of different services that people can mix and match, from counselling and complementary therapy to condition management and help in engaging with the community.”

He said the benefit to individuals was that it allowed a bespoke service catering for their unique needs.

To celebrate the launch of LifeHelp, the charity also unveiled its support of the new Norwich Mind Tigers football team.

The Norfolk Football Association-affiliated side has players from ethnic minority groups, mainly from African countries and Afghanistan.

Mr Gianfrancesco said: “Assisting people from minority ethnic backgrounds integrate with Norfolk life is one of our areas of help.

“One of the things that puts people at risk of mental health problems is feeling excluded from society.”

Norwich Mind also used the event to pay tribute to its 1,000-strong army of mental health first aiders.

Mr Gianfrancesco said: “We train people to become Mind first aiders capable of helping anyone who has a mental health emergency or is in distress.

“We wanted to bring these people together and provide recognition of what they do.”

If you are interested in becoming a mental health first aider, visit the charity’s website www.norwichmind.org.uk or ring 01603-432457.

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