South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) launched the mental health helpline on December 18. It is staffed by a team of six nurses covering 24 hours a day who provide a single point of contact for people experiencing crisis or facing difficulties dealing with mental illness.
The freephone line offers a range of supportive interventions, advice on mental health and medication, accessing services, crisis reviews and liaison with care teams for service users, carers and anyone who needs advice around mental health in the South London area.
Martin Baggaley, medical director at SLaM, said: "This is a really significant step forward in helping people who are going through a mental health crisis and is the first 24/7 telephone service for the trust.
"Calls will be answered by a nurse and we will then explore with callers the reasons why they have contacted us and identify what can help at that time and for the future. We will be working collaboratively with PALS and Solidarity in a Crisis to provide the widest range of options to help."
There was previously a range of different helpline numbers across the boroughs served by SLaM but the Trust believe the new dedicated line will continue to provide more co-ordinated and easier access to support.
The support service was developed in line with the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat and is part of all borough action plans and is jointly funded by the four borough’s clinical commissioning groups. The 24-hour line is available at 0800 731 2864 and more information can be accessed at www.slam.nhs.uk/patients-and-carers/crisis-support.
As well as the new support line for patients SLaM has reviewed its street triage telephone service that was piloted for one year and has now opened it up 24 hours a day as well, enabling frontline professionals to ring the team on 0203 228 0136 when in contact either in the street or in private premises with people whom they believe may be in mental distress.
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