Northamptonshire NHS mental health helpline reached 100,000 calls in August with demand expected to rise

Northamptonshire mental health helpline receiving 500 calls-a-day in October

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 4:49 pm

A 24/7 mental health Helpline in Northamptonshire has seen a sharp rise in demand following the end of national lockdowns.

The number, which launched in March 2020 by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) and the mental health charity Mind, has seen calls increase from an average of 60-a-day in its first three months to as many as 500-a-day by October this year. By August there had been over 100,000.

The line is staffed by a wide range of mental health professional who can help provide immediate support over the phone, signpost to crisis cafes for in person support or other appropriate services to meet people's needs.

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Calls can be made by anyone at any time, including existing patients and their GP's

The NHFT says that the aim now is to increase availability of the service so that even more people can find help.

A spokesperson for the organisation said: "The service continues to provide vital support, and we are dedicated to supporting our communities.

"We are working in partnership with Mind to recruit additional colleagues to support the delivery of the service, and continue to meet increased demand.

"Further to this, we are expanding the support the service provides, including the expansion of face-to-face support within locations across the county."

It is believed that expansions like these may be necessary, as demand is expected to remain high and perhaps rise further.

Fundraising and communications manager for Northamptonshire Mind, Nick Tite, said demand for services increased sharply as the lockdown hit and inquiries into the organisation remained at higher levels when lockdown was lifted in July 2020.

He said the organisation saw demand for some services increase by more than 180 percent and even now Mind receives significantly more inquiries than it did before the first lockdown in March last year as people adapt to society opening up.

Northamptonshire Mind CEO Sarah Hillier added: “The integrated hub 24-hour helpline, launched in March 2020 receives hundreds of calls a day.

“While it is a fantastic resource for the county, here at Northamptonshire Mind we are always fighting for mental health and increased provision for those affected by it.

"We know there will be continued increase in demand for services and are working collaboratively across the sector to identify and meet this need.”

But some in Northamptonshire say that these provisions still are not enough, believing that the NHS relies on a 'quick-fix' approach that underserves those in need.

Joe Plumb, the co-founder and deputy chair of Standout Northampton and prominent mental health advocate, says that the NHS should be reaching out to far more charities and volunteer groups that might be able to help.

He said: "It [the helpline] needs to work alongside a broader cross-party approach between the NHS and other groups that can help fill in the gaps.

"It isn't the NHS' fault. They are underfunded and understaffed. But without that joint approach there will be people who fall through the cracks."

For support, any time or any day, call the helpline on 0800 448 0828 to speak to a mental health navigator. For details of mental health services in the county visit the NHFT website.