111 callers with mental health problems will now have access to specialised support thanks to Hampshire pilot scheme

CALLERS to 111 experiencing mental health problems will now have access to specialised nurses as part of a new pilot scheme.

Saturday, 6th April 2019, 7:11 pm
Updated Monday, 8th April 2019, 10:35 pm
111 caller

The new Mental Health Triage Service will run for a 12-month trial offering expert advice, assessment and support 24/7 for young people and adults experiencing mental health problems across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

One patient contacted NHS 111 whilst experiencing a panic attack.

They said: ‘I was surprised how easily Vicky managed to calm me down from my panic attack, I was on the verge of calling an ambulance but thankfully after speaking to Vicky I no longer needed one and managed to calm myself down at home.’

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The new initiative, run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Solent NHS Trust and South Central Ambulance service, aims to improve the experience for people with mental health concerns resulting in fewer ambulance calls and unnecessary hospital visits.

Chair of the Mental Health Sustainability and Transformation Partnership Programme and chief executive of Southern Health, Dr Nick Broughton said: ‘Allowing mental health professionals to be involved at such an early stage of a 111 or 999 call will improve access to our mental health services and make sure that people experiencing a mental health crisis receive the best care that suits their needs.’

The specialised mental health nurses will also be able to arrange an appointment with a GP or community mental health team and respond to an urgent crisis response.

Before the new mental health triage service was in place people would have often gone to local emergency departments, or have been sent an ambulance and in some cases detained under the Mental Health Act.

Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane said: ‘Recognising how stretched police resources are it has been a primary focus of mine to invest in initiatives that reduce demand on policing, such as the improved access to mental health crisis support from trained mental health professionals rather than police officers.

‘This latest initiative is excellent progress which will help reduce mental health deployments even further and, most importantly, provide those most vulnerable with the appropriate professional support they need.’

The organisers of the service say that in its first month 95 per cent of callers received the support they needed over the phone without the need of further support.

Philip Astle, chief operating officer, at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), said: ‘This is a really important initiative which gives those with mental health issues a new, 24/7 route to specialist care but which also acts as a forerunner to the ambitions of the recent NHS Long Term Plan.

‘We are grateful to all our partners in the health system who are contributing to this project.’

If anyone is experiencing a mental health crisis and is in need of urgent care or support, dial 111 and speak to a mental health nurse.

If you are currently using mental health services it is recommended that you contact your Community Mental Health Team or out of hours service first.