Mental health helpline supports hundreds in crisis during pandemic

Safe Haven staff have helped hundreds of people during the pandemic.

Safe Haven staff have helped hundreds of people during the pandemic. - Credit: Archant

A telephone crisis service has helped to provide vital mental health support during the coronavirus outbreak.

The service was put on by the team behind the Safe Haven Centre, which was due to open in Weston in May to provide a safe space for people in acute emotional distress.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team decided to offer support via telephone instead and they helped people from North Somerset and South Gloucestershire after referrals from the Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust (AWP) community teams.

Since the service started, the staff have helped more than 600 people, providing a total of 499 hours of care and support.

Emmy Watts, AWP’s operations manager for North Somerset, said: “Having this service available for our patients to access has been hugely beneficial. Evenings can be particularly difficult for people who are experiencing anxiety, depression, low mood, social isolation and sleep difficulties, and many of the day time services are not available.

“Having someone to talk to and provide them with information about how to access support may prevent them from going into crisis and needing further treatment.”

The Safe Haven crisis and recovery service is run by mental health charity Second Step and is the first of its kind in North Somerset.

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The service was co-designed with local service users and clinicians and it operates seven days a week from 4-9.45pm.

Many of the people Safe Haven supports will receive regular interaction from the team of five experienced support workers and recovery navigators.

Dr Mike Jenkins, North Somerset GP and clinical lead for Weston Worle and Villages Locality, said: “This out of hours service has been a crucial element of crisis support in the area, during what has been an especially difficult time for many people suffering from emotional distress.”

The service will continue to operate as a telephone service until circumstances allow for face-to-face support to commence.

When the centre opens in Weston, it will be available to anyone over the age of 16 within the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area without referral.

The Safe Haven crisis and recovery service was established by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG), in partnership with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust (AWP),