Round-the-clock helpline launched for mental health issues during pandemic
- Credit: PA
A round-the-clock helpline is being launched to offer immediate mental health support for people struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
First Response, which launches at midday on Wednesday, is a 24/7 freephone service that has been set up by the region’s mental health trust - Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.
The service will provide reassurance, self-help advice and signposting to support geared at avoiding the need for people to attend hospital.
Once people are connected they will be put through to a mental health practitioner who will offer advice and support.
Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer with NSFT, said: “This is an unprecedented time for all of us, which is inevitably causing people anxiety and putting them under additional strain. That is why it is so important to offer as much support as we can.
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“This phone line is designed to keep people safe in their homes by providing them with immediate mental health support. We hope that this will be particularly helpful during this period of uncertainty when access to secondary mental health services is unfortunately more limited. “
The service is being made available to people of all ages, regardless of whether or not they are already making use of NSFT’s services.
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It will also be open to other healthcare professions, including GPs, ambulance and social care staff, to make referrals or seek advice when working with people experiencing mental health difficulties.
Dr Ardyn Ross, NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG’s clinical lead for mental health, said: “This is an unprecedented situation impacting on everyone’s mental health.
“We welcome the news of this new First Response helpline which is the result of excellent partnership working led by NSFT across our system. It will enable access to urgent support for everyone, including those who are already struggling with mental health conditions and those who are experiencing new difficulties.”
First Response will be available on 0808 196 3494.