MENTAL HEALTH LINE SEES DEMAND DOUBLE
The number of calls made to a mental health helpline have increased two-fold in just one month, according to reports by Birmingham Mind, Living Well UK and NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG. The one-stop 24-hour helpline has received hundreds of calls each week in January, showing that COVID-19 and its effects are continuing to weigh heavy on the region’s mental health.
Having been set up in response to the concerns that COVID-19 is having on wellbeing, the helpline is part of a suite of early intervention methods, designed to give those in the region access to immediate mental health support. With the NHS services at a critical tipping point and only being exacerbated further by the pandemic, the helpline aims to relieve the pressure, by instantly connecting those who need help with their mental wellbeing or those experiencing a mental health crisis, to appropriate support including psychological interventions
So far this month, the helpline has received almost 2,000 calls, and the numbers are only expected to increase. Commenting on the volume, the NHS Birmingham and Solihull’s Director of Joint Commissioning for mental health, Jo Carney, said: “The one-stop 24-hour mental health helpline has provided a vital service to those in Birmingham and Solihull during these unprecedented times, and we’re tremendously proud that we have been able to help so many get the support they need. All of us at NHS Birmingham and Solihull are so pleased to have been able to work with the Birmingham Mind, Living Well UK, Forward Thinking Birmingham and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust to bring this to fruition, and offer an efficient, simple, and immediate service for all those who need it in the region.”
Adding to this, Helen Wadley, the CEO of Birmingham Mind, commented: “The sheer number of people that have already been helped via the helpline in the first few weeks is tremendous to see; but this has only scratched the surface of the mental health crisis that we can see emerging. Therefore, it’s now more important than ever that people know that there is support available and where they, or their loved ones, can turn to so they can receive it. We’re here to help and we’re not going anywhere.
“For some people, it can be as simple as supporting them to make simple steps to improve their mental wellbeing during the pandemic. Equally, for others who are in need of more structured psychological support, then we are able to quickly access this too, with a senior nurse on duty at all times and strong links into the Mental Health Trust for those people needing NHS support.”
The 24/7 helpline is also bolstered by a Live Web Chat instant messenger service, available from 10am-9pm every day, and an email address operated by trained staff to address mental health concerns. These online options not only make help accessible for those who might feel nervous about picking up the phone; they also include the ability to translate the service, meaning people can get support in their preferred language too.
The trio of services are available to anyone living in Birmingham and Solihull, and the experts maintain that there is no worry too big or too small to reach out about. Whether its concerns around burn-out or stress; a sense of overwhelm or helplessness; feeling the pressure of being a front-line key worker; or even just simply feeling a little down: all three offer a safe space to talk to a trained mental health expert, as well as giving referral access to immediate counselling support if required.
“The ongoing restrictions have had a huge impact on all aspects of our lives – from working from home, while juggling childcare and home-schooling; to facing financial difficulty, job insecurity and, of course, worries around our physical health, and the health of those around us – and the knock-on effect this will have on the nation’s mental health should not be underestimated.
“Therefore, it is crucial that this open dialogue around mental health, and, most importantly, where people can access support when they need it, continues. Our expert staff and therapists are on hand and are ready to assist, so please do pick up the phone, drop us an email or log on to chat. If you’re not sure what you need, if you feel like it’s all getting too much, or if you simply can’t do it alone, it’s okay – we’re here to help you,” concluded Ben Howells, CEO of Living Well UK.