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Mental Health support added to NHS 111 service across Wales

20 Jun 2023 3 minute read
A young woman looking out of a window.

A new national phone line for people who require urgent mental health support is being launched across Wales.

The NHS “111 press option 2” for mental health is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all ages.

People can use this number if they have an urgent mental health concern themselves or about someone they know.

By providing access to a mental health professional, without the need for a GP referral, it can help support people to manage a mental health crisis and in many cases be an alternative to attending emergency departments or calling the police.

The service can be accessed by calling NHS 111 and selecting “option 2”. Callers will be transferred to a dedicated member of a mental health team in their local health board area.

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.

Lynne Neagle, deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, said: “We are committed to improving 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.”

£6 million

The Welsh Government has provided £6 million to support health boards to implement this service and achieve 24/7 coverage.

The service is being operated by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Pete Brown, head of service for NHS 111 Wales, added: “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.

Responding to the launch of the new service, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for mental health, Peredur Owen Griffiths MS said: “This new mental health phone lines needs to mark a sea change in the manner and speed in which people in a mental health crisis are supported and treated.

“The fear is that many people have, over the years, been lost between services before the launch of this type of specialist service.

“Welsh Government must clearly outline their plans to publicise this service, to ensure people know it exists and to stop anyone else falling through the gaps in service provision.”

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