A mental health helpline set up in response to the second national lockdown caused by the COVID 19 pandemic has received more than 11,000 calls since it first began operating at the beginning of November 2020.

During December 2020 helpline staff dealt with 5,498 calls from people struggling with their mental health, with 124 of those contacts being suicide related calls for help.

The 24-hour mental health helpline which was established by Stoke-on-Trent City Council with local support service Brighter Futures, who staff the phones, has been helping people living in Stoke-on-Trent who are struggling with the impact of restrictions bought about by coronavirus.

The helpline is ongoing and now continuing to provide support through the third lockdown.

Councillor Ally Simcock, cabinet member for adult social care and health care said: “I am so pleased that people who are sadly struggling with their mental health are using the mental health helpline to talk to somebody and to access the support they need. These are tough times for us all and looking after our mental health is as important as looking after our physical health. We know that everybody’s needs are different – some people will just need a listening ear, and others will be directed to the most appropriate support services available.

“Whether you’re feeling low and anxious or struggling to cope, please do call the helpline. Speaking out is a difficult step to take, but it’s also one of the most important ones. The friendly team at the helpline will give you a safe space to talk and help you to access support that’s best suited to your needs. Please don’t suffer in silence – we are here for you.”

With continual lockdowns proving challenging for us all, support is on hand, with lots of brilliant organisations such as the council led helpline dedicated to helping those struggling during these difficult times.

People contacting the helpline are given a safe and confidential space to talk about how they are feeling and are then supported to access further help if needed. They can then signpost callers to the most appropriate support service.

Some of the issue’s residents have called the helpline for support which include worries about coronavirus, relationship problems, and other concerns about their mental health.

Helena Evans, chief executive at Brighter Futures said: “We recognise that this period of isolation is difficult for everyone, so we’re pleased to extend our opening hours to offer a listening ear. There’s a lot of people who live on their own without a support network and the restrictions related to the pandemic may mean that they do not have access to one. Brighter Futures have had a significant increase in calls through our helpline related to isolation and concerns regarding mental wellbeing, so we very much welcome the opportunity to be able to extend our hours of operation of our mental health helpline to 24/7 provision at this difficult time, for people living within Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire county areas.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or other impacts bought on by the COVID 19 pandemic and lockdown and need some support, please call 01782 234233. Please remember that you are not alone, and that the helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is also a freephone number via Brighter Futures that people can access on: 0808 800 2234.

Find out more about accessing support by visiting https://www.stoke.gov.uk/supportservices.

The #StokeonTrentTogether network is also available to help access a range of support such as help with food and shopping. Please visit https://corona19.vast.org.uk/ or call 0800 561 5610, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
for more information.


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