Hampshire mental health services working differently to provide essential care during coronavirus outbreak

7 April 2020

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Mental health teams across the county are working differently to ensure people needing urgent or ongoing support for their mental health can still get the support they need, despite the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The teams are also working to make sure that simple advice and guidance to help everyone look after their mental health during this time is also available and shared.

To prevent the spread of the virus, mental health professionals are supporting many patients in different ways, such as via telephone, text messaging or video calls. Face-to-face contact with patients is still taking place where this is important to their safety. In some cases, services and support groups have been temporarily suspended to prevent the risk of infection but alternative arrangements are in place to ensure people can still access care and support.

Essential measures are being taken to protect patients and staff from the virus during home visits or on mental health wards. Staff may be wearing protective equipment such as masks, gloves and aprons. This is to minimise any risk of infection to both patients and staff.

Dr Nick Broughton, a psychiatrist and chief executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“During this difficult time it is all the more crucial to ensure mental health services continue to operate and provide effective care and treatment to patients. We are working hard to make sure our patients get the support they need, whilst preventing the spread of the virus.

“We also know that people are feeling anxious and worried about the current situation, and that social distancing measures can be tough for many. That is why we are also sharing simple advice and guidance with the public to help us all look after our mental health and wellbeing while we stay at home. 

“Finally, we understand that even after the pandemic has passed, many will still feel its effects. That is why we are already planning to ensure that people are able to access the support they will need in the aftermath of the current crisis.”

Sue Harriman, Chief Executive of Solent NHS Trust, said:

“It is absolutely vital that in times like this that we look after ourselves and each other. We are incredibly fortunate to have some wonderful mental health services across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and Solent NHS Trust is committed to ensuring safe and effective mental health care remains available to our communities.

“I want people to know that if you need help and support at this time. There are dedicated mental health teams across the patch offering their help and there is also lots of resources available nationally for anyone who may be concerned about the current situation.”

Kevin Gardner, CEO of mental health charity Solent Mind, said:

“I am pleased that Solent Mind is working with NHS and social care bodies across Hampshire to offer support to people whose mental health and wellbeing is affected by Covid 19. Just as the spread of the virus cannot be contained within normal administrative boundaries, neither can an effective multi-agency response.”


What to do if you need urgent mental health support:

  • In a life threatening emergency, always call 999
  • If you need urgent mental health support in Hampshire, contact NHS 111, as we have a dedicated mental health triage team co-located in the NHS 111/999 service across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight supporting people presenting with mental health symptoms. The team are working hard behind the scenes to reduce waiting times for people who mental health need support at this busy time. As well as providing people with mental health support/interventions so they can stay at home and self-care.
  • Enhanced web-based mental health support is now available on the online 111 service, via 111.nhs.uk
  • A new mental health rapid response service has been launched. Calls triaged through the 111 or 999 service are routed to the rapid response teams as required, which consist of paramedics and mental health nurses in special vehicles. The service is designed to provide a fast and effective response to emergency situations where a person is in mental health crisis. Clinicians have access to all the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to carry out face-to-face care with patients with COVID-19 symptoms, if necessary.
  • The Lighthouse safe haven in Southampton is now operating a virtual service in partnership between Southern Health and Solent Mind. For Southampton residents, simply text LIGHTHOUSE and your postcode to 07451 276010 between 4.30pm and 12am to access the service.
  • PositiveMinds offers support to anyone in Portsmouth facing struggles with their mental or emotional health. The service is a partnership between Solent NHS Trust, NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Portsmouth City Council, and Solent Mind. Our trained Wellbeing Advisors can offer support by calling 023 9282 4795.
  • For people already using community mental health services, please continue to contact your care team in the usual way. It may be that you will receive routine care over the phone or via video-link rather than face-to-face.

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