A 24-hour mental health helpline launched at the beginning of the second national lockdown has already received more than 400 calls for help.
The helpline, established by Stoke-on-Trent City Council with Brighter Futures, has received 431* calls from residents struggling with their mental health with 33* of these calls being from residents who said they were feeling suicidal.
Call handlers from Brighter Futures provide callers with a safe space to talk about issues they are facing. They can then signpost callers to the most appropriate support service. Some of the issues residents have called the helpline for support with include worries about coronavirus, relationship problems, and other concerns about their mental health.
One caller rang the helpline because they were feeling low, isolated and stressed. They had found that due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were unable to use their usual support networks and strategies to cope. The call handler helped the caller talk through their worries and signposted them to appropriate support networks such as self-help resources and support services which can offer more help. Following the phone call, the caller said: “Thank you so much, it has been so helpful to just be able to tell someone how stressful I have found the past few months. I will definitely look at the online support and apps available. It is reassuring to know that you are there every day if I need to talk.”
Conservaitve Councillor Ally Simcock, cabinet member for adult social care and health care said: “I am so pleased that people who are sadly struggling with their mental health are using the mental health helpline to talk to somebody and to access the support they need. These are tough times for us all, and looking after our mental health is as important as looking after our physical health. We know that everybody’s needs are different – some people will just need a listening ear, and others will be directed to the most appropriate support services available.
“Whether you’re feeling low and anxious or struggling to cope, please do call the helpline. Speaking out is a difficult step to take, but it’s also one of the most important ones. The friendly team at the helpline will give you a safe space to talk and help you to access support that’s best suited to your needs. Please don’t suffer in silence – we are here for you.”
Helena Evans, chief executive at Brighter Futures said: “We recognise that this period of isolation is difficult for everyone, so we’re pleased to extend our opening hours to offer a listening ear. There’s a lot of people who live on their own without a support network and the restrictions related to the pandemic may mean that they do not have access to one.
“Brighter Futures have had a significant increase in calls through our helpline related to isolation and concerns regarding mental wellbeing over the last six to seven months, so we very much welcome the opportunity to be able to extend our hours of operation of our mental health helpline to 24/7 provision at this difficult time, for people living within Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire county areas.
“Our helpline offers information relating to other local services available, and an understanding and non-judgmental opportunity for people to share their concerns and worries.”
The mental health helpline can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via 01782 234233.