New remote mental health service to set up for patients in Portsmouth area at 'breaking point'

A NEW remote and out-of-hours mental health service is set to launch in the Portsmouth area to support those at ‘breaking point’.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 3:39 pm

The Harbour will provide a phone call, text, online chat and video call service to people in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and East Hampshire in need of help from Friday.

It comes as health professionals fear the pandemic will see rising numbers needing services – surpassing previous NHS Digital predictions that more than 26,000 people aged between 18 and 64 in the city will live with a common mental health disorder by 2025.

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A new remote mental health service is set to open. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images

Steve Johns, The Harbour service manager, said: ‘These predictions were made prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact of Covid-19 and the resulting economic depression is expecting to cause a considerable increase in mental ill health over the next three to seven years.

‘In order to support those who are impacted by this, mental health services are being asked to treat more people and improve access to the right service at the right time. These figures show that it’s important now, more than ever, that we ensure we provide a service for people who feel they are at breaking point and need empathetic and positive support to get them through their self-defined crisis.

‘The Harbour aims to do this and enable local people to continue on and improve their mental wellbeing to ensure they can thrive, not just survive.’

The service, to be piloted for 12 months, will be run by mental health charities Solent Mind and Havant and East Hants Mind in partnership with Solent NHS Trust and Health and Care Portsmouth, and is based on a crisis service in Southampton, the Lighthouse.

Dr Nick Moore

It will be unable to support people who need medical attention, if they are incoherent under the influence of drinking alcohol or using drugs, using threatening or aggressive behaviour, or under the age of 18.

Clinical executive at Health and Care Portsmouth, Dr Nick Moore, added: ‘It's important that people have somewhere to go, out of hours, where they can talk to someone with lived experience of mental health issues. We know the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on people’s feeling of wellbeing and that many people are struggling with their mental health for the first time in their life, this service can support those people in times of need when most other services are closed for the night.

‘We're looking forward to seeing how the pilot of the service progresses and what we can achieve and learn from over the next 11 months.’

There for each other

The Harbour will initially run during the busiest times of the week – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 4.30pm to 11pm via 07418 364911.

‘I see my mental health condition as always being part of me’

THE new mental health service The Harbour will be managed by staff who have had their own mental health problems, bringing their experience and knowledge to help others who are seeking support.

Sherry Craig, Solent Mind’s programme lead for Portsmouth support and recovery services, said: ‘I've lived with depression since about the age of 12 but didn’t know it at the time. I worked really hard to ignore and avoid how I felt until I gave birth to my daughter and was diagnosed with post-natal depression. As time went on, I went on to study for my degree full time and was lucky enough to be able to access counselling at university.

‘After university, I was just about coping but I had lots of low times and was struggling to deal with my emotions and moods. This was difficult, and as a lone parent, with a home to run and a full time job, I begin to get very unwell.

‘When I was 35, I had a major depressive episode and was admitted to Elmleigh, a mental health hospital and took a career break for two years. I was diagnosed with depression, complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. After Elmleigh, I was supported by the community mental health team for two years and completed various therapies including cognitive behaviour therapy, schema therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprogramming.

‘When I was discharged from the mental health team, I eventually went back to work but continued to access counselling on and off for a number of years. Through an employment support provider, I got a job with Havant and East Hants Mind as a wellbeing worker, then was promoted to wellbeing manager.

‘I then moved to Solent Mind where I am now the programme lead for Solent Mind's services in Portsmouth.

‘I still dip in and out of counselling - talking therapy really works for me. I also take anti-depressant medication and use lots of wellbeing tools, rest, relaxation, being with friends/family, gardening, crafting, upcycling etc I have learnt a lot about myself throughout my mental health journey and believe I am a much better person because of this.

‘I see my mental health condition as always being part of me, accepting this and seeing the benefits that have been added to my life and work because of it. I have taken control of my mental health and give myself the attention I need to live my quality of life alongside my symptoms.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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