New mental health service unites volunteers and clinicians

A new collaborative mental health support service has been launched in Somerset aiming to unify volunteer organisations and clinicians under one service.

The Open Mental Health partnership includes a 24-hour helpline which to date has received over 22,000 calls over the course of the last ten months. The partnership has an email address as well where people can ask for support.

The Open Mental Health Somerset support line (Mindline) is supported by the wider Somerset Integrated Care System, and brought together doctors, nurses, psychologists, and charities such as Age UK, Citizen’s Advice, Rethink Mental Illness and many others.

People can ring the helpline and ask for support on a wide variety of mental health issues such as depression, isolation and loneliness, anxiety, debt problems. Call handlers are fully trained to offer support and advice, and can refer callers to clinical staff or charities.

Beccy Wardle, head of NHS Collaboration at Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Our aim was to make sure any person needing help could get it straight away without having to join a waiting list or tell their story multiple times. Now, people can call our number or 111 and speak immediately to someone fully trained to talk to them and help direct them to the right type of care.”

The collaboration works together with a dedicated team from the Citizens Advice Bureau if necessary, and a virtual team is in place to discuss patient welfare and support options.

Angela Kerr, CEO Citizen’s Advice South Somerset, added: “Each Open Mental Health Partner brings something different to the service but what we have in common is our commitment to changing how we work together for the benefit of our clients’ wellbeing.

“What’s been different for Citizens Advice is that we’ve stepped outside the constraints of our standard working practices bringing our specialisms alongside others in a service tailored to our shared clients and everyone wins – health staff don’t have to worry that their patient’s recovery may be affected by homelessness or debt.”