Wednesday 24 April 2024
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Nottinghamshire mental health helpline launched – text Notts to 85258

A new mental health helpline has been launched across Nottinghamshire as health bosses admit they “need to do more” to help children and young people in the city and county.

The 24/7 helpline, called ‘SHOUT’, launched at the beginning of March and conversations take place entirely over text messages, rather than phone calls.

While available to everyone, there has been a specific focus on children and young people’s mental health.

The service runs around the clock and volunteers, supervised by trained clinicians, can help people with their anxiety, stress, loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts.

During a Nottingham City Council meeting to discuss services and provision for children and young people on March 28, Rachel Clark, the programme lead for children and young people’s mental health, said: “This month we have just launched the SHOUT text service.

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“It’s delivered by Nottinghamshire Healthcare, and they have teamed up with the mental health charity Mental Health Innovations, to launch a free and confidential mental health 24/7 helpline.

“Anyone in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire can text ‘Notts’ to 85258 to be connected to a trained SHOUT volunteer.”

The text service has been launched at a time when health bosses said more needed to be done to help children and young people.

There has been a focus on young people with eating disorders, with support for non-urgent cases failing to meet targets.

The national target is to ensure 95 per cent of children with an eating disorder can access treatment within a week for urgent cases, and four weeks for routine cases.

While more investment in 2022/23 brought Nottingham’s figures up to 100 per cent for urgent cases, only 83 per cent of young people were seen within four weeks in routine cases.

The director for people’s services at Nottingham City Council, Catherine Underwood, said: “Are we equipped to meet the needs we have?”

Ms Clark added: “We do know that, when we look at our numbers, we are increasing access to children and young people’s mental health services.

“But we still need to do more.”

During the meeting, health bosses detailed a series of improvements to mental health support.

Mental health support teams are now being rolled out across Nottinghamshire, with teams in around 80 schools in Nottingham city so far.

It is hoped there will be 75 per cent coverage in the city by January 2024.

A website, called NottAlone, also offers a wealth of support for children and young people who may be struggling.

NottAlone co-founder and the council’s mental health support team service manager, Dr Maddi Popoola, said between September and December last year the number of children who took part in workshops and assemblies across schools in the city was more than 6,000.

However, she added children living with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) do not have enough support from specialist schools.

She says a pilot mental health team project for SEND specialist schools is currently taking place to improve this.

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