COVID-19: 24/7 support services set up for mental health service users in the community
'Phone first' initiative is expected to ease pressure on local acute trusts coping with pandemic and support service users who need urgent mental healthcare
Two leading mental health trusts in London have together set up round-the-clock mental health emergency departments (EDs) that people in crisis can reach by phone during the COVID-19 outbreak.
South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust created the ‘phone first’ services to support service users in the community who need urgent mental healthcare.
The two trusts provide a range of services for a combined population of 2.4 million people.
Self-isolation and worry over coronavirus is affecting mental health
Under the joint scheme, patients of any age, including children, can phone in before attending one of three dedicated mental health EDs. Referrals can also be made, for example by service users’ carers, partners or family members.
The service is aimed at easing pressure on local acute trusts trying to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, especially as self-isolation and worry over coronavirus is thought to be affecting people’s mental health.
South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust opened what it calls its Orchid service on 30 March. It is run by a senior registered mental health nurse specialist and other nurses.
Specialist mental health nurses play key role in running new service
The trust's acting director of nursing and quality Sharon Spain said: ‘I am extremely proud that our specialist mental health nurses are playing a key role in running this innovative new service, which supports our local community’s mental health.
‘Orchid allows for all patients, both with and without symptoms, to receive the urgent mental health support they need, as the centre safely separates those with and without COVID-19 symptoms into two zones.
‘We are glad to be able to support the people in our community at this challenging time, as well as our local hospitals and emergency services, by providing this specially designed service.’
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