NHS ‘111 press 2’ a big step forward for access to urgent mental health support

A new national phone line for people who require urgent mental health support is being launched today across Wales, the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, has announced today.

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The NHS ‘111 press option 2’ for mental health is available 24 hours a day, 7 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.

The service has been rolled out across Wales since November last year and has so far received more than 15,000 calls. The majority of callers have had their problems resolved through advice on self-management or been referred to local third sector groups, with a minority of callers referred to urgent mental health care services.

Last Week the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, visited St Cadoc’s Hospital in Caerleon to meet the team working on the service for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Lynne Neagle said:

“We are committed to improve 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.”

Dr Chris O’Connor, Divisional Director of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said:

“We have now been providing the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Gwent since March and local people have told us how much they have valued being able to pick up the phone and speak to a trained mental health practitioner in times of need.

“I would urge anyone who needs urgent assistance for a mental health issue, or anyone who is concerned about a friend or family member, to call 111 (Press 2) and speak to someone who is there to listen, understand the situation, and help you access the right help and support.”

Following the completion of the national roll out of NHS 111 Wales in May 2022, a national campaign was delivered to increase awareness, understanding and trust in the service and help patients with urgent care needs to get the right care, in the right place, first time. The NHS ‘111 press option 2’ service is a significant transformation to improve access to mental health support.

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

Shane Mills, a Clinical Director of the NHS National Commissioning Unit and the national lead for the ‘111 press 2’ service said:

“When people contact ‘111 press 2’ for support they will be listened to and supported by compassionate professionals. The local knowledge of these professionals will allow them to provide support to the person that is tailored to their need and local area. Health Boards in Wales have worked extremely hard to set up and deliver this service in two years.”

Pete Brown, Head of Service for NHS 111 Wales at the Welsh Ambulance Service, which hosts the 111 service, said:

“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.”

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