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Torfaen MS launches 24/7 phone line for people who need urgent mental health support

Lynne Neagle MS
Lynne Neagle, Torfaen MS and deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing (Photo: Welsh Government)

The MS for Torfaen, Lynne Neagle, has today launched a national phone line for people who need urgent mental health support.

The announcement has been made in her role as deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing. Callers to NHS 111 in Wales can press ‘option 2’ if they have an urgent mental health concern themselves or about someone they know. It will transfer them to a dedicated member of a mental health team in their local health board area.

The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Welsh Government said quick access to a mental health professional without the need for a GP referral can help people manage a crisis and could reduce visits to emergency departments and calls to the police.

It includes an assessment of needs and telephoned-based intervention to reduce distress. Where appropriate individuals can be referred to mental health services, given self-care advice or signposted to other support.

15,000 calls since November 2022

The service has been rolled out across Wales since November last year and has so far received more than 15,000 calls.

Last week she visited St Cadoc’s Hospital in Caerleon to meet the team working on the service for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Lynne Neagle said: “We are committed to improve mental health and access to mental health services. The implementation of the ‘111 press 2’ service across Wales will transform the way the NHS responds to urgent mental health issues – and it can accessed by anyone, at any time and from any part of Wales.

“We know that sometimes people need to speak to a mental health professional so they can talk through their issues and get the right support whether this be NHS Mental health services, primary care, local voluntary services or self-care advice.

“The Welsh Government wants to make access to mental health services easier and this service is part of a wider package that includes self-referral to online cognitive behavioural therapy.”

Service has been running 24/7 in Gwent since March

Dr Chris O’Connor, divisional director of mental health and learning disabilities at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: “We have now been providing the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Gwent since March and local people have told us how much they have valued being able to pick up the phone and speak to a trained mental health practitioner in times of need.

“I would urge anyone who needs urgent assistance for a mental health issue, or anyone who is concerned about a friend or family member, to call 111 (Press 2) and speak to someone who is there to listen, understand the situation, and help you access the right help and support.”

The Welsh Government has provided £6m to support health boards to run the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Shane Mills, a clinical director of the NHS national commissioning unit and the national lead for the ‘111 press 2’ service said: “When people contact ‘111 press 2’ for support they will be listened to and supported by compassionate professionals. The local knowledge of these professionals will allow them to provide support to the person that is tailored to their need and local area. Health Boards in Wales have worked extremely hard to set up and deliver this service in two years.”

Pete Brown, head of service for NHS 111 Wales at the Welsh Ambulance Service, which hosts the 111 service, said: “It can be hard knowing where to turn for the right healthcare advice, especially when you or your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis. Calling 111 and pressing option two will simplify all of that and connect you straight to a dedicated member of a mental health team in your local area.

“The number is free to call from a landline or mobile, even if you have no credit left.

“Calling 111 for mental health support will hopefully help people to manage their crisis before it escalates and requires emergency intervention.”

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Torfaen MS launches 24/7 phone line for people who need urgent mental health support