Finding the right help

by Brian Woods

Where do we find help when we are concerned about a mental health issue?   The answer to that question is not always obvious.   It can depend upon a number of different factors.   Among these is the severity of the problem.

For example, the signs of mental health decline can include:

  • feeling down or hopeless for extended periods
  • difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
  • isolating from other people
  • Perhaps also marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • an increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • or even thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Learning to spot these signs is vitally important for our own mental well-being, and that of other people too.   These could include a relative, friend, work colleague, or employee.

There are a number of possible sources to access for help and advice.   A GP is the obvious starting point.   If necessary, they can arrange an initial assessment.   Referral to counselling or local Community Mental Health Team services can then follow.

Another source of help is the NHS 111 helpline.   This number can be called when you have an urgent healthcare need.   It is also for those people who are unsure about where to get support.   (When you get connected, select the mental health option.)

The NHS website contains links to free, non-urgent NHS talking therapies (psychological therapies.).   These include counselling for depression, interpersonal therapy (IPT), and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT.)   These are available to anyone who is registered with a GP.  You can refer yourself to NHS talking therapies service online.

Another useful link on the NHS website is that concerning Mental Health At Work.   This offers advice and support to work colleagues, line managers, and employees. It also contains resources for small business owners and the self-employed – a shocking 1 in 2 of whom report poor mental health. 

(Further information here)

The mental health charity Mind has a website that contains much useful information.   This includes types of mental health problems, and helping someone else.   Information on local Minds can be found on their website – for example Solent Mind or East Hants Mind.

There is a local talking therapy service in Hampshire.   Named italk, it is delivered by Southern Health NHS Trust and Solent Mind.   They provide such therapies as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), as well as free well-being courses and classes.   There is also a free SilverCloud online programme.   You can self-refer to italkor arrange an assessment.

Shout is a text messaging service that is available to anyone who needs support with mental health issues.   It is free, confidential, and available 24/7.

‘SHOUT‘ to 85258.    (If you are under 19 text “YM“)

You can phone the Samaritans on 116 123.   They are also contactable by email or letter.    Local branches are available for a face-to-face chat.   All these services are free.

There are also resources available in the event of a mental health crisis.   Among these is Staying Safe, a resource developed by 4 Mental Health.   Their website includes information on how to make a Safety Plan.   There is also advice on supporting someone else during a mental health emergency.    Mind also provide information about crisis services on their website.

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