People experiencing mild mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, low mood or self-harm are to be offered help thanks to a new support service.
The new service would provide adults with anonymous support on a drop-in basis for people over the phone or via text/webchat and will not require a referral from a professional.
The move, which follows a six-week consultation, was approved by Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet.
At its meeting on Wednesday, September 21, the cabinet considered proposals to enhance the mental well-being support available for adults in the county.
In 2020, the council launched new temporary mental wellbeing services to provide extra support during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic – new funding has since been secured to continue the support on a longer-term basis.
Since 2010, the county council has funded a separate Self Harm Helpline which provides open access, anonymous support by phone, webchat, or text for anyone seeking support around self-harm.
The contract for the self-harm helpline is coming to an end in March 2023 – a consultation was carried out earlier this summer to find out what people in Gloucestershire thought about combining the standalone support for self-harm into an expanded new mental wellbeing helpline for adults.
An overwhelming majority of the 565 responses supported the proposals for a new service.
What would the new service provide?
The new service would provide anonymous support on a drop-in basis for people experiencing mild-moderate issues with their mental and emotional wellbeing, such as anxiety, stress, or low mood, alongside support for self-harm.
Following cabinet agreement, support will be available over the phone or via text/webchat and will not require a referral from a professional.
Being able to access support from trained advisers early may prevent symptoms from getting worse and help reduce demand on other mental health services in the county.
Advisors will also be trained in supporting people with self-harm, and support will also be available for friends and carers.
Cabinet member welcomes plans
Cllr Nick Housden, cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “Following our consultation, we found there is a need for people to be able to access support early, when they first notice changes in their emotional wellbeing or start to find things difficult.
“There was a lot of support for an expanded service and the option of providing help for self-harm alongside wider support for mental wellbeing.
“I want to thank everyone who gave us feedback on this important issue.
“The need for mental health support has increased in recent years both nationally and locally, so it is vital we get it right to make a positive difference to the mental wellbeing of people in Gloucestershire.”
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