From this week, Southern Health will be piloting an exciting new mental health service in Southampton. The Crisis Lounge is a new service for adults living in the city who experience a crisis with their mental health. Based at Antelope House, it will complement the care currently provided to this vulnerable group of people.
The new service represents an investment of £380,000 over the next 18 months. It is part of a wider programme of investment and improvement, as a result of Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group’s Mental Health Matters strategy. The strategy has identified the need to invest further in the city’s mental health crisis pathway, and future measures will also include:
more capacity for specialist psychological treatments;
more support at A&E, strengthening the existing psychiatric liaison service;
more home treatment;
greater investment in services to support people with their first episode of psychosis;
greater support for people’s physical healthcare needs, as well as their mental health, in acute mental health inpatient units.
By offering a safe haven, the new Crisis Lounge will avoid people having to visit Southampton General‘s A&E as they currently do. Whilst there is a psychiatric liaison service at A&E, it is acknowledged that an emergency department is not the most suitable place for people in mental health crisis or who may be experiencing highly distressing symptoms but who have no urgent physical health needs.
The Crisis Lounge will reduce the risks to patients themselves, the risks to others at A&E who may be vulnerable and also reduce the risk of people leaving an A&E waiting room without even being seen or assessed. It will offer a calm environment away from the noise and energy of a busy A&E department.
Sarah Leonard, acute care matron at Southern Health’s Antelope House, explained: “Local people using the new Crisis Lounge will be able to benefit from improved and more rapid triage, assessments, interventions, advice and support. They will be cared for by mental health nurses, as well as peer supporters who have lived experience of mental illness themselves. By using the Crisis Lounge, people may be able to avoid an unwanted admission to an inpatient unit, instead benefitting from intensive support whilst remaining in their homes.”
Peer Support Worker, Stephani Ashby (pictured above right), added: “My fellow Peer Support Workers and I will offer visitors to the Crisis Lounge empathetic, constructive and compassionate support specific to their needs. We are based in a safe, calm and welcoming environment where people going through a mental health crisis can regroup and begin to focus on a positive future.”
It is hoped that the pilot will be extended beyond the initial 18-month trial period and will see the Crisis Lounge move from within Antelope House to a more community-based location.
Whilst the service will be open to the majority of local adults in mental health crisis, there will be certain criteria to enable the service to run efficiently. For example, patients can’t be under the influence of substances, lack capacity, display aggressive behaviour or be detained under the Mental Health Act.
The Crisis Lounge will initially open for four ‘twilight’ shifts each week – Monday to Thursday from 4.00pm to midnight. However, as recruitment progresses, the goal is to deliver a 24 hour/7 day a week service.