Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Mental health support will soon be available through NHS 111 with the integration of a new helpline.
The 24/7 Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health helpline launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide support to people struggling with their mental wellbeing and has so far helped over 3,000 adults and children since April
From this month onwards, the helpline will be accessible via 111 for people needing mental health support in non-life threatening situations.
Conditions and symptoms the helpline will be able to assist with include stress, anxiety, low mood, relationship problems, helplessness, confusion, and visual and auditory hallucinations.
The line is staffed with mental health advisors from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust who will now be joined by 111 operators.
“If you have got any concerns please call 111 to speak to our mental health professionals," said clinical director, Rob Bale. "We’re here and ready to listen. The helpline is open round the clock to support adults and children who need advice urgently and ensure they get the right help at the right time.”
The addition of mental health support to NHS 111 comes at a time when rates of poor mental health have spiked across the country.
Recent reports have revealed concerning rates of work absences due to deteriorating mental health, high levels of 'self-medication' to help manage mental wellbeing, and a high number of students experiencing a drop in their happiness.
Health workers themselves have also been significantly affected: 1 in 3 pharmacists have felt a significant impact on their mental health, while NHS staff absences due to mental health issues at Oxford University Hospital increased by almost 20% during the first national lockdown.
In response to rising concerns, the government recently announced £500 million in funding to tackle extra demand for mental health support in the fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic.