Mental health support now available 24/7 via NHS 111 helpline
A 12 month pilot scheme offering expert advice, assessment and support for young people and adults experiencing mental health problems is running 24/7 across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight via the NHS 111 helpline.
The new initiative being delivered by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Solent NHS Trust and South Central Ambulance service allows 111 callers who experience mental health problems to have direct access to specialised nurses in the new Mental Health Triage Service.
Specialised mental health nurses are able to support and give advice to people who call 111. This can range from arranging an appointment with a GP or community mental health team to an urgent crisis response. Mental health nurses also have access to patient records and crisis plans for any callers already using local mental health services.
The project has received £350,000 funding from commissioners* and it aims to improve the experience for people with mental health concerns resulting in fewer ambulance calls and unnecessary hospital visits.
One patient contacted NHS111 whilst experiencing a panic attack,
“I was surprised how easily Vicky managed to calm me down from my panic attack, I was on the verge of calling an ambulance but thankfully after speaking to Vicky I no-longer needed one and managed to calm myself down at home. Thank you Vicky!”
Another caller who used the service commented;
“It was my first time of using a service like NHS111 and I was really impressed with how responsive the nurses where. When I phoned, I was quite nervous, but the call handler made me feel at ease.”
Mental Health Nurses can also support GPs, other health workers and police officers who feel a person may require mental health support.
The service has already proved to be a huge success and in its first month - 95% of callers received the support they needed over the phone without the need of further support.
Our specialist mental health nurses have been able to support patients by;
- Telephone consultations and offering self-help guidance
- Referring people to community mental health teams
- People being supported in their homes
Before the new mental health triage service was in place people would have often gone to local emergency departments, or have been sent an ambulance and in some cases detained under the Mental Health Act.
Philip Astle, Chief Operating Officer, at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), said:
“This is a really important initiative which gives those with mental health issues a new, 24/7 route to specialist care but which also acts as a forerunner to the ambitions of the recent NHS Long Term Plan. We are grateful to all our partners in the health system who are contributing to this project.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane said;
“Recognising how stretched police resources are it has been a primary focus of mine to invest in initiatives that reduce demand on policing, such as the improved access to mental health crisis support from trained mental health professionals rather than police officers. This latest initiative is excellent progress which will help reduce mental health deployments even further and, most importantly, provide those most vulnerable with the appropriate professional support they need.”
Chair of the Mental Health Sustainability and Transformation Partnership Programme and Chief Executive of Southern Health, Dr Nick Broughton commented;
“I am delighted to be introducing this service alongside our colleagues from Solent NHS Trust, Southern Central Ambulance Service, our Commissioners and Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Allowing mental health professionals to be involved at such an early stage of a 111 or 999 call will improve access to our mental health services and make sure that people experiencing a mental health crisis receive the best care that suits their needs.”
If anyone is experiencing a mental health crisis and is in need of urgent care or support, please dial 111 and speak a mental health nurse. If you are currently using mental health services we would recommend contacting your Community Mental Health Team or out of hours service first.
*This encompasses the mental health programme delivery for the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership for Hampshire and Isle of Wight.