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24 hour mental health support line launched in Lambeth

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) today (18 December) launched the first 24-hour mental health telephone support line to help people who are experiencing mental distress.

The line is for patients, carers and anyone who needs advice, help and assistance while in crisis or facing difficulties dealing with mental illness. A range of supportive interventions, advice on mental health and medication, accessing services, crisis reviews and liaison with care teams will be offered.

One freephone number will be staffed by a team of six nurses covering 24 hours a day, from 18 December at 9am and will be a single point of contact for people living in the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon.

Martin Baggaley, medical director at SLaM, said: "This is a really significant step forward in helping people who are going through a mental health crisis and is the first 24/7 telephone service for the trust.

"Calls will be answered by a nurse and we will then explore with callers the reasons why they have contacted us and identify what can help at that time and for the future.
"We will be working collaboratively with both PALS and Solidarity in a Crisis to provide the widest range of options to help."

There are currently a range of different helpline numbers across the boroughs but the new dedicated line will provide a more coordinated and easier access to support from trained professionals when people are in need.

The number is 0800 731 2864, which is the same number that takes patients through to the patient advice and liaison service (PALS). The support service was developed in line with Crisis Concordat and is part of all borough action plans and is jointly funded by NHS Lambeth Clinical Commuissioning Group (CCG) and the CCGs in Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon. 

Garry Ellison is a former patient and now works for SLaM's Recovery College and Solidarity in a Crisis. He said: "This line is a fantastic idea. There are many times when people need help and have previously only been able to receive it between 9 and 5.

"Even knowing such a service exists has helped my wellbeing and I am sure it will help many others. This service has huge potential."

As well as the new support line for patients SLaM has reviewed the street triage telephone service that was piloted for one year and will be opening up the line 24 hours a day. This enables a front line professional to ring the team 24/7 on 0203 228 0136 when in contact either in the street or in private premises with people whom they believe may be in mental distress.

The overall aim of the team is to work collaboratively including directly with the person to gain the best possible outcome from their contact with emergency services.