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Why Mind’s mental health support line must be saved - join our #WeMind campaign here

PUBLISHED: 12:30 16 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:06 16 February 2016

Norwich MIND chief executive Amanda Hedley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich MIND chief executive Amanda Hedley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The EDP and Norwich Evening News is today launching a campaign to save the support line run by the Norwich and Central Norfolk branch of Mind.

Mental Health. Pictured: A woman is consoled by her friend. Picture: Time to change/Newscast OnlineMental Health. Pictured: A woman is consoled by her friend. Picture: Time to change/Newscast Online

Quite simply, the line was set up to plug a gap that desperately needed filling.

Between the hours of 2pm to midnight in the week and 24 hours a day at the weekend, experts in mental health are on hand to take the calls of those in a crisis.

And on average those calls are made around 800 times a month.

Yet neither the Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) or the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), believes the service should continue. They say the £10,000 a month that would keep it afloat will not be found.

But the consequences of not having the line will, at best, likely mean more people calling on an already over-stretched NSFT crisis team or A&E, and at worst could be the difference between life and death.

We say this situation is unacceptable.

The CCGs funded the service up until last year, but say it was only meant as a temporary measure to fill a gap. But that gap still exists.

The NSFT says its own funding was just a temporary measure and that it needs extra resource from the CCGs to commission such a service. It also claims to have its own helpline set up as part of its Wellbeing service - yet this is not for crisis situations.

The person at the end of the phone and desperate for help cares little about the politics that go on behind the scenes. They just want support.

If the service is needed, the money needs to be found.

In the long-run questions need to be asked as to why the hours in question are not adequately covered in the first place. Just yesterday the government said one of its priorities was to ensure proper 24/7 mental health care was provided all over the country.

But until that issue is resolved this valuable service has to go on.

If not, we worry that lives could be lost.

•We urge you to sign the petition here and to Tweet your support to our campaign using #WeMind.

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