Thank you for contacting me about calls to introduce a national mental health emergency helpline. These services are so incredibly important and can offer a vital lifeline to people who feel at breaking point or that they have nowhere left to turn.
We must all work hard to ensure the right kind of support for people who are suffering from mental ill health is available. As well as raising constituents’ experiences on this front with my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Health and Social Care, I have regularly engaged with local health agencies, including the Sussex ICB and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to highlight feedback brought to me and receive their updates.
The NHS Long-Term Plan committed to ensuring a significant expansion of urgent and emergency mental health care and access to these services via NHS 111. NHS England specifically sought views on the creation of a separate number for mental health from patients, clinicians and commissioners implementing local services, as well as other national mental health bodies and charities who agreed that, rather than creating a separate access point, the Government should seek to make the current main access points fit for purpose for people with urgent mental health needs.
In March this year, a 24/7 mental health crisis helpline set up by the 54 mental health trusts across England went live, via NHS 111, improving the wait time for connection to the specialist crisis mental health point of access. To date, it has already received over three million calls.
Mid Sussex residents can call NHS 111 and select option 2 or direct dial 0800 0309 500 to reach the 24/7 Sussex Mental Health Crisis helpline. This is for anyone who may be in crisis and in urgent need of help with their mental health.
- Staffed by mental health professionals, the crisis lines help to ensure everyone who requires it can get the rapid care they need without having to go to A&E.
- Most callers are able to receive treatment over the phone or can be referred to a face-to-face assessment; fewer than 2% of the calls have resulted in an A&E attendance or a blue light response from ambulances or the police.
- Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can call their local helpline, and friends and family members can call on behalf of someone they’re worried about. Parents can call for their children, and support is available for all ages.
- The lines are also open to professionals such as police and paramedics who may come across people experiencing mental ill health.
This helpline is part of the five-year funding offer that will see the annual NHS budget grow by over £33.9 billion, where mental health services will receive budget growth of £2.3 billion over the five-year period. the fastest uplift in funding. This will essentially enable further service expansion and faster access to community and crisis mental health services for both adults and particularly children and young people in Mid Sussex.
Furthermore, in August this year, the Government relaunched a £10 million fund so charities can work with the NHS to provide life-saving suicide prevention services. Those across England can now apply for the latest round of funding from the Suicide Prevention Grant Fund which will ensure as many people as possible can access the support and prevention services they need.
I will continue to actively engage with relevant bodies to ensure this happens and that the needs of our Mid Sussex community are met. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
- More information on the NHS mental health helpline including helplines for other areas: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/mental-health/find-an-urgent-mental-health-helpline
- More information on the NHS Long Term Plan and commitment to improve and care for children and adults needing mental health support: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/areas-of-work/mental-health/
- Additional help and support for mental ill health in Mid Sussex: