Christmas and the New Year can be difficult times for many people but they can be reassured that Dorset’s Access Mental Health services will be open as usual to provide support during the festive period for people who are struggling to cope, anxious or feeling they are heading towards a crisis.
Led by Dorset HealthCare, the services offer round-the-clock help and advice to those in need, in person, over the phone and online over Christmas and into the New Year.
As the UK has emerged from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis has kicked in, the county’s 24-hour helpline alone has fielded thousands of calls each month during 2022.
Services available include:
- Connection – a 24/7 telephone helpline (0800 652 0190) for people of all ages which can provide direct help or signpost to a range of other services
- The Retreat – drop-in service run in partnership with the Dorset Mental Health Forum which provides a way for over-18s to talk through problems with a mental health worker or peer specialist face-to-face. The Bournemouth Retreat is open from 4.30-11.30pm every day and Dorchester’s Retreat is open from 4.30-11.30pm, Sunday-Wednesday. Online support is also available
- Community Front Rooms – face-to-face drop-in support service for over-18s in Bridport, Shaftesbury, Wareham and Weymouth, 2.15-9.45pm, Thursday-Sunday. Virtual support is also available. They are run by local charities – The Burrough Harmony Centre (Bridport), Hope (Shaftesbury) and Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (Wareham and Weymouth) – and are all staffed by mental health and peer support workers.
This year, the Connection phone line has received between 4,500 to 5,200 calls per month.
One caller to the service said: “The lady listened, kept me calm, and reassured me that I shouldn’t feel a burden. After speaking with her I felt a lot better. The people on the end of the phone made me realise that they are available to help me no matter what.”
And a visitor to the Retreat said: “The person I spoke to really could relate to what I was going through and understood what I had been through. He gave me the advice I needed, but also listened like I needed.”
Laura Ekelund, Dorset HealthCare’s Crisis and Acute community services manager, said: “This year has continued to be a challenging time for people’s mental health. We know this time of year can be particularly hard for many and we are here to help.
“Our Access Mental Health services provide easy and flexible ways to get the help you need, no matter what your situation or the time of day.
“We have face-to-face support available in the evenings and there is someone at the end of a phone 24 hours a day. You can talk to mental health staff and peer specialists (people with their own lived experience of mental health issues) and get the right support and advice.
“We understand how hard it can be to ask for help, but please do contact us as we really want to listen and are here for you 24/7.”
More information – including address details of the Retreats and Community Front Rooms – plus how to access virtual support is available at www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/access-mental-health
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