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New mental health crisis service launches in Portsmouth

The number of people living with mental health issues in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire is on the rise – but a health service launching this week aims to help tackle this problem.

The Harbour – a remote, out of hours mental health crisis service – is set to launch on Friday 17 September for people living in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and East Hampshire.

The Harbour aims to reduce the number of people who use the emergency and hospital mental health services by preventing people reaching crisis point.

Figures from the ‘Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: survey of mental health and wellbeing’ from NHS Digital show the predicted prevalence of mental health problems for adults aged 18-64 in Portsmouth, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The report predicts more than 26,000 people will have a common mental health disorder in 2025.

Steve Johns, The Harbour Service Manager, explains:

“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 Solent Mind and Havant and East Hants Mind, in partnership with Solent NHS Trust and Health and Care Portsmouth, and is based on the successful crisis service in Southampton, the Lighthouse, staffed in partnership between Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust nurses and Solent Mind peers.

It will be unable to support people who need medical attention; incoherent under the influence of drinking alcohol or using drugs; threatening/aggressive behaviour; and are under 18.

The Harbour will initially launch during the busiest times of the week – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, open 4.30pm- 11.pm. If people feel uncomfortable on the phone, they can also text, web chat or use video calls to access the service: 07418 364 911.

Dr Nick Moore, Clinical Executive at Health & Care Portsmouth, said:

“I’m really excited for this new service to open up in Portsmouth. It’s important that people have somewhere to go, out of hours, where they can talk to some with lived experience of Mental Health issues. We know the impact the Covid-19 Pandemic has had on peoples 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.”

Jo Perry, Operations Director, Mental Health Services, Solent NHS Trust, said:

“We are really proud to be a partner in piloting The Harbour which will ensure that there is real-time support for people experiencing mental health problems, particularly in the evenings when we know people can feel even more lonely, isolated and vulnerable. We would encourage everyone who is struggling with their mental health in Portsmouth and southeast Hampshire to reach out to The Harbour because the team, with their lived experience, is brilliantly positioned to understand what support’s needed for that individual.”

Dr Zaid Hirmiz, a Horndean GP and the Clinical Director (South East Hampshire) for NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG, said:

“I applaud the skills and knowledge of the partner organisations behind this hugely worthwhile project. People live with mental health problems every minute of the day, and it is well documented that this is now a vast problem for society. To have this crisis out-of-hours service on our doorsteps is hopefully going to help change many lives for the better.”

For more information, visit: https://www.solentmind.org.uk/support-for-you/our-services/the-harbour

Young people encouraged not to let stigma stop them from accessing mental health support

Children and young people are reminded not to suffer in silence when it comes to their mental health.

Anxiety or stress is currently the top reason for young people in Portsmouth accessing counselling via the Kooth digital wellbeing service. Kooth provides a safe and anonymous space for those who might not feel confident in accessing traditional face to face services and is free for Portsmouth’s young people to access.

Darren*, aged 17, from Portsmouth, reached out to Kooth’s counselling team due to feeling lonely and experiencing low mood. He had bottled up his emotions, not talking to his parents or any other trusted adult due to the stigma that he felt exists around mental health.

Darren realised he needed a professional to talk to, but felt speaking face to face was too difficult. He took the step of logging onto Kooth.com, which provides easily accessible and anonymous access to support from skilled professionals. Darren began the process of opening up and is now having ongoing sessions with Kooth’s counselling team.

Young men like Darren might not reach out for support via traditional routes like their GP, however, online support can feel easier. He is now accessing the support he needs and the Kooth team have continued to help him reach his goals to improve his mental health and build confidence to talk to other trusted adults around him.

Commissioned by Health and Care Portsmouth in January this year, Kooth has helped young people to be supported more quickly. 11-18 year olds (up to age 25 for care leavers or those with an Education Health and Care Plan) can register themselves anonymously at Kooth.com, with no referrals or waiting lists.

The site is available 24/7, with counselling available 12pm – 10pm Monday to Friday and 6pm – 10pm at weekends, all year round. In addition to counselling, the site offers a range of self-help resources and wellbeing activities. Young people can join moderated forum discussions about a range of topics, and use a daily journal to track their feelings and reflect on how they’re doing.

All Portsmouth users surveyed on the site say they would recommend Kooth to a friend.

The commissioning of Kooth forms part of Portsmouth’s 2020-2023 Social, Emotional and Mental Health Strategy for children and young people, which includes a focus on ensuring early help is available to support emotional wellbeing and mental health needs, preventing difficulties from escalating and requiring specialist mental health services.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education, said:

“No-one should feel embarrassed or ashamed that they’re struggling with their mental health. It happens to lots of people, especially after going through some of the challenges that Covid has presented like not being able to see friends or family, having to study at home and not being able to take part in activities that you enjoy. Lots of successful public figures like sports stars, actors and musicians have started to talk about difficulties they’ve faced with their mental health and I hope that this will normalise it and encourage young people to open up when they’re struggling and be willing to ask for support when needed.

“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to further enhance our mental health support for young people with an online service as they told us that they liked accessing support this way, especially the ability to remain anonymous. It’s even better that we’ve been able to launch it during the pandemic when we know so many people are finding that their mental wellbeing has been impacted.”

Alison Jeffery, Director of Children’s Services at Portsmouth City Council, added:

“Digital solutions are an important part of our mental health strategy for young people and have become even more essential due to Covid-19, which led to a requirement for remote options as well as increased demand for services. We’re pleased that Kooth has enabled more young people to be supported, more quickly, especially during these challenging times.

“By providing young people with a highly accessible and anonymous way to access support safely from experienced counsellors we hope this is helping to mitigate any stigma that young people may feel about accessing support for their mental health.”

For more information about Kooth and other mental health support services for young people in the city, visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk/youngpeoplementalhealth.

 

*Darren is a pseudonym

Positive Minds is back open for face to face support from today

Positive Minds is a partnership between Portsmouth CCG, Solent NHS Trust and Solent Mind, the local mental health charity. The mental health support service is based in central Portsmouth and has been delivering fantastic online support over past last year.

The service offers a new way to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of Portsmouth residents, with a safe environment to provide support to individuals before they reach a crisis point.

The service looks and feels very different to traditional NHS services whilst providing a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. This gives people somewhere they feel able to turn to when they face periods of distress in their lives which might feel overwhelming.

It is also a place where people can meet others who have experienced similar struggles to them. So the reopening of face to face support will be incredibly impactful for many.

Claudia, Wellbeing Advisor at Positive Minds is ready to welcome people back in person.
She says:

“We recognise that coming out of lockdown will be really difficult for many people, so we are still available over the phone while we adjust. We are really looking forward to seeing people face to face, while following the government guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. If you’re anxious about the changes in any way, please reach out to us.”

Due to the relaxation of restrictions, the service can now once again accept face to face appointments with mental health professionals and ‘peer supporters’ – people with personal experience of living through periods of mental and emotional difficulties.

To ensure the safety of users, Portsmouth residents will have to book an appointment in advance, but often one will be available on the same day. To book an appointment call 023 9282 4795 – or for more information, visit https://www.solentmind.org.uk/support-for-you/our-services/positiveminds/

 

Tips for adjusting to life as we come out of lockdown

Take your time – If you have something coming up, you don’t have to do it all at once. You can open the front door for a bit, step out into the garden or street, and when you’re feeling ready, take a walk around the block.

Be kind to yourself – If you don’t feel ready for social events, don’t feel pressured to attend right away.

Learn some techniques to manage anxiety – If you start to feel anxious, focus on taking deep breaths, counting out seconds as you do it. Do this for as long as you need to.

Talk about it – If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, don’t keep it to yourself. Speak to people you trust about how you are feeling or contact Positive Minds.

Increased mental wellbeing support for young people

Young people in Portsmouth now have access to a free, digital mental health service. The Kooth online counselling and emotional wellbeing service has been commissioned by Health and Care Portsmouth. It will enable more young people to be supported, which is particularly important given the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health.

Kooth.com is available to young people aged 11-18 years old in Portsmouth, or up to the age of 25 for care leavers and those with an Education Health and Care Plan. The site provides young people with a free, safe and anonymous way to access support from qualified counsellors as well as a range of self-help resources for mild to moderate mental health issues, such as anxiety, loneliness, stress and body image.

Kooth, which is accredited by The British Association of Psychotherapy and Counselling (BACP), has no referrals, thresholds or waiting lists. Young people can self-register at kooth.com. The site is available 24/7, with counselling available 12pm – 10pm Monday to Friday and 6pm – 10pm at weekends, all year round.

The decision to introduce an online platform follows feedback from young people and their families that a digital service would be a convenient and accessible way to access support, with young people liking the ability to remain anonymous.

Young people using Kooth can use instant messaging to speak to a qualified counsellor via an online drop-in service or booked session. They can also join moderated forum discussions about a range of topics, and use a daily journal to track their feelings and reflect on how they’re doing.

The launch of Kooth further bolsters Portsmouth’s mental health support for children and young people which was praised in the recent multi-agency report following joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs) in the city. The Kooth offer complements the Mental Health Support Teams, which are currently available in 32 Portsmouth primary and secondary schools, and this additional provision will help to ensure that young people can be supported more quickly. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) continues to be available to support with more moderate to severe mental health issues in young people. Other online national resources also exist to provide mental health advice and support to young people and their families, ensuring there is a well-rounded offer available.

The commissioning of Kooth is part of Portsmouth’s 2020-2023 Social, Emotional and Mental Health Strategy for children and young people, which includes a focus on ensuring early help is available to support emotional wellbeing and mental health needs, preventing difficulties from escalating and requiring specialist mental health services.

Dr Linda Collie, Clinical Leader for NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said;

We know that there has been an increase in young people experiencing mental health issues, and that was before you take into account the impact of Covid-19. The arrival of Kooth couldn’t have come at a better time and it will serve as an integral component of Portsmouth’s mental health provision.

“Being able to support young people at an early stage of them experiencing mental health concerns will help to reduce those needing more intensive support once issues have become more complex and deep-rooted.”

Alison Jeffery, Director of Children’s Services at Portsmouth City Council, said;

“Digital solutions are an important part of our mental health strategy for young people and have become even more essential due to Covid-19, which has led to a requirement for remote options as well as increased demand for services. We’re pleased that Kooth will enable more young people to be supported, more quickly, especially during these challenging times.”

“By providing young people with a highly accessible and anonymous way to access support safely from experienced counsellors we hope this will mitigate any stigma that young people may feel about accessing support for their mental health.”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education, added;

“Supporting children and young people with their mental wellbeing is a fundamental element in enabling them to achieve a bright future. I’m thrilled that we’ve further enhanced our mental health support with a new digital service. Young people told us that they liked accessing support this way, especially the ability to remain anonymous, so I’m pleased that we’ve been able to launch this at such a pivotal time. With the challenges of the pandemic and disruption to normal routines, alongside the pressures that young people already face, it’s important that we help them to feel supported and connected as best we can.”

Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service

Hampshire and Isle of Wight veterans and their families experiencing mental health crisis can now access a new mental health High Intensity Service (HIS).

Veterans, or their loved ones, can call NHS 111 if they need urgent mental health support or are in a crisis, say that they are a veteran and access rapid support from mental health practitioners within 111.  Alternatively, veterans can ask their GP or any advocate to make a referral on their behalf.

The HIS is part of a trio of specialist mental health support for veterans which are already up and running across the South of England, which includes the Veterans’ Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS). Working alongside these services, the HIS aims to provide a swift and direct route into dedicated mental health services, whilst providing a wrap around service to manage social health problems, such as homelessness, debt and joblessness.

The HIS is part of a new national pathfinder being rolled out across areas of England from November 2020 onwards, with Solent NHS Trust as the Lead Provider for the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It has been launched in response to the feedback from the Veteran community.

You can refer a veteran or a member of their family into the High Intensity Service via NHS 111, by emailing snhs.veteranshis.se@nhs.net, or the veteran themselves calling 111.

For more information on the HIS, visit the Solent NHS website.