Trial of new mental health support service could prove to be a vital lifeline – Opinion

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In recent years, mental health problems have become much more visible in society. They are talked about more than ever on TV and radio, there are countless newspaper and magazine pieces devoted to the subject, not to mention the web blogs and videos

Yes, attitudes have changed for the better in recent years.

But that is not to say these issues have become completely destigmatised and accepted by everyone as a ‘legitimate’ health problem.

When we still have more than 80 men taking their own lives each and every week, the battle is far from won.

Thankfully, not all mental health issues are that serious, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t all need and deserve attention as well. Mental health covers an entire spectrum – from the well and good, to the profoundly unwell and in dire need of help.

It is those in need of help who often find it lacking when they need it most.

The announcement that Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is to be home to a 12-month trial for a new mental health triage service is therefore very welcome.

Any means of more timely and more effective intervention will, we hope, be for the good.

Of course, a successful outcome from a call to the new service will also prevent the need for an ambulance call-out, hospital visit or even the police, thus alleviating pressure elsewhere on our overstretched health service and fellow emergency services.

With so many financial pressures on the NHS though, we hope that this trial will not be a casualty of future cuts.

However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we hope that this trial lives up to its promise and delivers that crucial aid to those desperate enough to be asking for it.

It is on the face of it at least, a timely and potentially life-saving initiative that deserves to ultimately become a permanent fixture rolled out across the UK.