New urgent mental health support phone line launched across Wales

Welsh Government has shared that a new national phone line for people requiring urgent mental health support has been launched this week across Wales.

Providing 24/7 coverage, the NHS “111 press option 2” service is to provide people with support in times of mental health crisis. It is hoped that it will “in many cases be an alternative to attending emergency departments or calling the police”.

Allowing individuals to access the service by dialling NHS 111 and selecting “option 2”, callers will be transferred to a dedicated member of a mental health team in their local health board area, before an assessment of needs and telephone-based intervention are carried out to reduce immediate distress. Individuals can then be referred to mental health services, given self-care advice, or signposted to other support.

Since being rolled out across Wales in November of 2022, the service has received over 15,000 calls, with callers mainly being provided advice or being referred to local third sector groups, or, if needed, referred to urgent mental health care services.

Following a national campaign to raise awareness and £6 million investment from the Welsh Government to support health boards in implementing the 24/7 coverage, the service has been called “a significant transformation to improve access to mental health support”.

Shane Mills, clinical director of the NHS national commissioning unit, says: “When people contact ‘111 press 2’ for support they will be listened to and supported by compassionate professionals. The local knowledge of these professionals will allow them to provide support to the person that is tailored to their need and local area. Health boards in Wales have worked extremely hard to set up and deliver this service in two years.”