24/7 hotline launched to support mental health during coronavirus pandemic

The new freephone service is being launched by the NSFT during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Ge

The new freephone service is being launched by the NSFT during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

People struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus outbreak will now be able to access 24/7 support via a free telephone service.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has set up a 24/7 helpline offering immediate support for mental health difficulties during Covid-19.

The free service, called First Response, launches at midday today and will be staffed day and night by mental health professionals.

The new service – which will be available to members of the public of any age, regardless of whether or not they are an existing NSFT user – will provide reassurance, self-help advice, support and signposting designed to avoid the need for people to attend hospital, except in the case of a medical emergency.

The line will also be open to other healthcare professionals such as GPs, ambulance and social care staff who need to make referrals or seek advice when working with people undergoing mental health difficulties.

More: Expert shares tips for people struggling with eating disorders during lockdownFirst Response will be available on 0808 196 3494 and callers will hear a recorded message instructing them to press either one or two, depending on whether they are a professional or member of the public, and will then be connected to a mental health practitioner.

Stuart Richardson, Chief Operating Officer at the NSFT, said: “This is an unprecedented time for all of us, which is inevitably causing people anxiety and putting them under additional strain. That is why it is so important to offer as much support as we can.

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“This phone line is designed to keep people safe in their homes by providing them with immediate mental health support. We hope that this will be particularly helpful during this period of uncertainty when access to secondary mental health services is unfortunately more limited.

“As well as providing a vital service to members of the public, we hope the helpline will also be a useful resource for our health and social care colleagues, as well as our partners in the police, by offering guidance and advice when they are working with people experiencing mental ill health.”

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First Response will be open to anyone in Suffolk or Norfolk.

For more information about the new service see here.

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