The NHS in Birmingham & Solihull has joined forces with its third sector partners, Living Well UK and Birmingham Mind, to launch the region’s first one-stop mental-health support service.

Designed to make accessing mental-health support as easy as possible, the 24-hour telephone line will allow callers to get immediate help over the phone from trained staff, as well as to remotely access bespoke plans for aftercare assistance.

The call-line is part of a suite of early-intervention methods. These also include a Live Web Chat instant messenger service and an email address operated by trained staff to address mental-health concerns.

The trio of initiatives comes at a critical point for NHS mental-health services. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a sharp surge in the number of people reporting mental-health issues, and with the third national lockdown being announced last week, this is set to rise further still. The latest studies predict that up to 10 million people in England - almost 20% of the population - will need either new or additional mental-health support as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 crisis, pushing the already strained services to a critical point.

Speaking about the new initiative, Sean O’Rourke, mental-health nurse and manager at NHS Birmingham & Solihull CCG, said: “This new 24-hour phone-line, alongside the LiveChat and email service, is so desperately needed, and so much hard work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure that we can offer an optimised, efficient and simple service for those who need it in our region.

“The nation’s mental health is at an all-time low, with economic, health and social uncertainty and insecurity being acutely felt by so many. Therefore, we know that it's more important than ever that people have the ability to seek and receive help when they need it; getting timely, targeted support before their mental health deteriorates further.”

The phone-line is accessible to anyone living in Birmingham and Solihull. Whether they are dealing with anxiety and worry, experiencing burn-out or stress, or simply feeling a little down, the phone-line provides a safe space in which to talk to a therapist. It also provides referral access to immediate counselling support if required.

Added to this, the LiveChat - which is open from 10am to 9pm - delivers the same service, meaning those who are nervous about picking up the phone can still receive help in real-time from trained staff. It also offers a translation service, meaning that those seeking assistance can do so in whatever language suits them best.

Helen Wadley, the CEO of Birmingham Mind, said: “The phone-line, LiveChat, and email services are available to all in the region, and we cannot stress enough that they are there to be used. Too often, we’re seeing people reach out for help far too late, and - like physical health - we know that the earlier we detect a problem, the quicker and easier it is to resolve."

To seek advice, support or counselling, call the 24/7 phone-line on 0121 262 3555. You can also find out more about additional services by visiting: https://www.birminghamandsolihullccg.nhs.uk/your-health/mental-health-support-offer