Spotlight

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health support available in Somerset

If you are concerned about how you are feeling, please contact Somerset Mindline – 01823 276 892 or free phone 0800 138 1692.

Mindline is the first port of call for mental health help – it is operated by people in your local area who will know how best to support you. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to people of all ages.

Our colleagues at Mindline will refer you to your local home treatment team if you need their services.

You should still call 999 or go to A&E if you have an immediate, life-threatening emergency requiring mental or physical health assistance.

 

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week we are celebrating the outstanding work of nurses across our NHS trust, as well as all things ‘Somerset’, but we are also marking the annual Mental Health Awareness Week.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is the first combined community, acute and mental health NHS trust on the English mainland. We have been using the strength of our colleagues, recovery partners (those with lived experienced of mental health) and voluntary sector working together to offer a comprehensive mental health service across the county.

Jane Yeandle, our service director for mental health and learning disabilities, said we have a lot to be proud of in Somerset and that it was important that we mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

“As you can imagine the past year has been very busy for our mental health services,” said Jane.

“Like many, we have been doing everything we can to keep our patients and colleagues safe, ensuring that we follow COVID-19 guidelines.

“We have also been keen to keep services going and able to support people in Somerset during this challenging time. We are proud that we not only managed to maintain our services, with some moving to video and telephone support, but we were even able to build and strengthen some of our existing services.

“Our colleagues have been amazing – flexible and responsive. Without a doubt, like many, there have been some highs and lows. Our high points have been seeing our colleagues and teams step up and strengthen, with good will, humour, and compassion. The low points have been awareness of the despair and distress evident in people as they struggled to cope with lockdown. We experienced both patients and colleagues with COVID-19, and that was challenging.

“Our experts by experience – also known as recovery partners – told us how important being connected is so we introduced up a 24/7 Mindline for people with all ages. We also kept our recovery college running (at times this needed to be remote), and the services we provide through Open Mental Health have gone from strength to strength.

“The last year has seen our partnership with voluntary sector colleagues and experts by experience become the “new normal”.

“It is heartening to be aware of the growing attention and focus on mental health and wellbeing across wide sections of the population, with an increasing focus on physical and mental health.

“It is also great to see how people are being encouraged to talk; the power of asking people how they are and having a conversation should never be underestimated. We all need to continue to talk about mental health; it really is everybody’s business and we can all help.

“From a personal perspective, I think the last year has really shown me the importance of family, friends, outside space and simple moments of joy. It has taught me that I need to feel connected too. I welcome Mental Health Awareness Week and the focus it brings on how we feel.”

 

Open Mental Health

One of the most significant develops in mental health in Somerset over the last year has been the introduction of Open Mental Health – a nationally acclaimed alliance between voluntary organisations, the NHS and social care.

As part of Open Mental Health our wide range of mental health teams are working shoulder-to-shoulder with voluntary partners and recovery partners – those with lived experience of mental health services and of living with a mental health condition – to transform lives and support the wellbeing of communities in Somerset.

Open Mental Health is breaking down long existing barriers to support and enable prevention, early intervention, and holistic support.

It provides support to help people live a full life by enabling access to specialist mental health services, housing support, debt and employment advice, volunteering opportunities, community activities and exercise.

People with lived experience of using services have been at the heart of the design, development, and delivery of Open Mental Health from the very beginning.

Jane Yeandle, our service director for mental health and learning disabilities, continued:

“This really is a massive achievement. We are very proud of the incredible work that our mental health colleagues have done to set up Open Mental Health.

“Some examples of the success of Open Mental Health include the implementation of a 24/7 support line (Mindline), the development of community mental health crisis alternatives, and the launch of a small grants fund which has enabled many community and grass roots projects to develop and thrive. The support line alone is taking about 3,000 calls every month.”