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NHS 111 select mental health option

People can now access local crisis mental health services by calling NHS 111 and selecting the mental health option for crisis mental health support (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

In our we region we have been preparing for the implementation of a new way for the public to access crisis mental health support through calling NHS 111 and selecting the mental health option.

They will then be put through to mental health advisors, who will be supported and supervised by trained mental health clinicians from our mental health trusts. These are Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).

In the future, rather than phoning a range of freephone numbers for mental health support, there will just be one number to call, 111. This is for people of all ages including children and young people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

The service will continue to be provided by our two mental trusts - Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Currently, people living and working in the North East and North Cumbria can call an area-specific freephone crisis service number to seek help for themselves or someone else for urgent mental health support. These calls go to local teams managed by CNTW and TEWV.

Phone numbers sometimes differ for adult, children, and older people services and are advertised via a range of channels. There is also a tool on the NHS website where the public can enter their postcode and find their local crisis service number.

A Mental Health and Ambulance Transformation Leadership and Assurance Group has been established and brings together partners across North East and North Cumbria to oversee the development and delivery of mental health and ambulance transformation - this includes the design and implementation of the operational model to support the NHS 111 'select mental health option' service.

Members of the group include the Integrated Care Board, CNTW, TEWV, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), as well as a people with lived experience.

The operational models for NHS 111 select mental health have been developed within CNTW and TEWV, in line with NHS England requirements.

When people call NHS 111, they will be offered the option to press 2 if they need crisis mental health support. The service is for people of all ages, including children and young people.

They will then be put through to mental health advisors, who will be supported and supervised by trained mental health clinicians. People will be able to access support via screening, onward signposting, and access to crisis services for triage where needed. The teams will be located at West Park Hospital in Darlington (TEWV) and Hopewood Park in Sunderland (CNTW).

CNTW and TEWV have recruited extra mental health advisors and introduced new telephony platforms with increased functionality, including call recording, to help provide the best quality service.

NHS 111 select mental health is for people in need of crisis mental health support. It does not replace other existing avenues for seeking mental health support such as via their GP, talking therapies, etc.

Yes. The aspect that is changing is how the people access the service which is via NHS 111. The service will be managed by the local NHS mental health trusts in that area and services will continue to provide triage, assessment, and intensive home treatment, as they do now.

People often don’t know which number to call or who to turn to for help. This is an important step towards improving access to care for those who need crisis mental health support using a single universal number.

Regardless of whether a person is on a call with a mental health professional or an NHS 111 physical health call handler, if a 999 -emergency response is needed, it will be facilitated by the person they are speaking to, as it is now.

The existing local freephone crisis numbers will remain in situ for some time to avoid anyone calling the old numbers being unable to access the support they need.

We have developed a communications plan to ensure we convey clear, consistent, and timely messages to the public, current users of services and other stakeholders and interested parties, including our workforce, about what is changing and why. We have involving people with lived experience to ensure that our communications are accessible.

An important part of this will also be raising awareness of, and confidence in, how people can seek and receive crisis mental health support, and how the new NHS 111 select mental health option will support this. This includes helping people to understand who the calls will go to and reassuring them they will still be handled by our trust's mental health teams.

This will be a phased programme aligned to operational plans – which includes launching a regional wide campaign to signpost the public to NHS 111 for crisis mental health support. This will be a final phase of our communications programme once the service is live and will be part of our overall Here to Help signposting campaign.

Our messages will continue to advise people that they or someone else has physically harmed themselves, or if their life is at risk, then they should still call 999.

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