A 24-hour mental health helpline launched at the beginning of the second national coronavirus lockdown in November 2020 has now received 27,965* contacts from people needing support.

A total of 653* contacts made during the last six months have been from people who said they were feeling suicidal.*

The helpline, established by Stoke-on-Trent City Council with Brighter Futures, has also received contacts from 1,054* people who had not contacted the helpline before it became a 24-hour support service.

During these contacts, call handlers from Brighter Futures provide people struggling with a safe space to talk about issues they are facing. They can then signpost callers to the most appropriate service and to resources for support

The figures were revealed as the country marks Mental Health Awareness Week, a national campaign hosted by The Mental Health Foundation, aiming to raise awareness of achieving good mental health and the importance of talking about mental health.

Councillor Ally Simcock, cabinet member for adult social care and health care said: “Improving mental health services and working to make them accessible to residents across the city is a key priority for us, not just during Mental Health Awareness Week, but all year round. Working with Brighter Futures, we were able to extend the opening hours of its existing Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline to make it accessible 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Since the 24-hour element was launched in November, 5,941 calls were made during the extended hours, with 199 of these being from people who said they felt suicidal.**  These numbers show the amount of people in our city and across Staffordshire who are sadly facing struggles with their mental health, but I am pleased we are able to offer some comfort and support through the helpline.

“This Mental Health Awareness Week, the theme is all about connecting with nature and how being outside and getting fresh air can help boost your mood and improve your wellbeing. The Mental Health Foundation website has useful tips for us all on how we can connect with nature to make a positive impact on our mental health.

“We all have mental health and it’s so important we look after it. The 24-hour Mental Helpline is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t matter whether you’re having a bad day or have been struggling with mental health issues for some time, we are here for you, so please do call the helpline if you need to.”

Eunice Burke, Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline Manager, said: “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.

“The Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline, part of our mental health provision, has provided an immediate point of contact for people in the local area since 2000 – and provides emotional support for people concerned about their mental health or someone they know. We’re extremely thankful for our partners at both North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. They provide us with the resource, guidance, and support to provide what is a life-saving service.

“People who need to contact us can do so via our freephone number, text, email, or instant messaging through the main Brighter Futures website. We encourage anyone needing that listening ear to give us a ring and offload any concerns they may have.”

The 24-hour mental health helpline can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via 01782 234233.

You can find out more about other support services available via https://www.stoke.gov.uk/supportservices

Mental Health Awareness Week (10 – 16 May) by going to https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

(*These figures cover the period between Monday, November 2020 and Tuesday, 4 May, 2021.

** These figures cover the period between Monday, 9 November and Tuesday, 4 May 2021. These figures are calls received and supported outside of the helpline’s previous usual operating hours of 7pm-2am weekdays and 2pm-2am weekends.)

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