The Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline, a life-saving mental health support service, has recorded more than 50,000 support contacts in 12-months.
The Brighter Futures service, which extended its support to 24-hours a day during the pandemic, has seen an increase of 50% above target for 2020/21 – with the team commissioned to provide 25,000.
The increase in contacts shows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental health – of which the Helpline has proved an important resource.
Call handlers from Brighter Futures provide callers with a safe space to talk about issues they are facing. They can also signpost callers to the most appropriate support service. Some of the most common issues people have called the helpline for support with include concerns about their mental health and worries about their personal life, relationship problems, feeling isolated, and dealing with bereavement.
The Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline is funded by both Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire CCG’s and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to provide a listening ear to people struggling with their mental health.
It also provides both a Ring Out and Support Call service, through referral, that provides extra support to people that need it.
Eunice Burke, Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline Manager at Brighter Futures, says: “I’m very proud of the team and what we’ve been able to achieve.
“We’ve been able to accommodate a change from an out-of-hours support service to one that is open and available 24-hours a day. This deserves immense credit and the results we have managed are unbelievable.
“if just one person has found it easier to get through the day after contacting us – it’s a job well done. We knew the pandemic would be a tough time for people and the uncertainty that surrounds it. We want people to be able to reach out for support and we encourage them to do just that.
“We continue to here for you If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, worried, or if they generally feel like they just need a listening ear.”
Dr Waheed Abassi, Clinical Director for Mental Health with the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said: “We know that many people have struggled with their mental health during the pandemic. There are many reasons why people have felt they need support, and it has been more difficult to get face-to-face appointments because of the need to protect people from infection. That’s why we have placed greater reliance on other services to provide assistance, and there has been a great deal of learning about how we do this.
“People who have been providing this support, either face-to-face where essential, over the telephone or online have been a crucial part of the pandemic response and we are very proud of the work they have been doing. I would urge anyone who thinks they need help to ask for it.”
Anyone needing to access the Helpline can do so by calling the team for free on 0808 800 2234 24-hours a day.
The Helpline is also free to access via text message – 07860 022821, instant messaging – www.brighter-futures.org.uk or email – firstname.lastname@example.org.