Published on: 14 January 2021

Anyone in Derby or Derbyshire experiencing a mental health crisis this January – or at any time of the year – will now be able to benefit from an even broader range of support and advice, by calling 111 or the county’s mental health helpline, thanks to an innovative collaboration involving the NHS, third sector organisations and the emergency services.

January’s third Monday, “Blue Monday” – this year 18 January – is sometimes cited as the most depressing day of the year. While the idea of Blue Monday isn’t based on scientific evidence, it is true that for many people, January can be a time when mental health suffers.

This can be due to Seasonal Affective Disorder, or changes that impact our sleeping and eating habits, and thus our mood. People may have concerns about Christmas debt, gloomy weather or, this year, the impact of the current lockdown.

Local residents of any age who are struggling with their mental health can now dial 111 or the 24/7 helpline number (0800 028 0077) and benefit from telephone support not only to help them with their mental health but also to talk through practical issues that may be causing them concern. In addition, they may now be given the option of face-to-face support at a ‘safe haven’, where they can continue to discuss their problems in a calm, welcoming environment.

First point of contact

The changes have come about as the 24/7 helpline, run by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, becomes a permanent service as part of improvements being made through the Joined Up Care Derbyshire programme. The helpline team now consists of staff from the charity P3, as well as clinical staff from Derbyshire Healthcare. 
The first point of contact for anyone calling the helpline is now likely to be one of P3’s team of advisers, who will help callers to consider options for managing their concerns, for example by exploring self-help resources, coping skills and community-based support in their local area, and by giving practical advice about organisations that can help people with issues like housing and finance.

Working alongside the P3 team will be advisers from Derbyshire Federation for Mental Health (DFMH) who specialise in supporting children and young people and who will ensure the helpline can provide an effective response to younger callers.

The P3 and DFMH staff will have the option to escalate a call to one of the helpline’s mental health professionals where they feel this is needed. These clinically-trained staff will then explore further with the caller what additional help and support may be required. The clinical team will also continue to work closely with Derbyshire Constabulary, East Midlands Ambulance Service and the 111 service run by DHU Healthcare, providing a triage function and crisis response for individuals coming into to contact with emergency services. 

If colleagues on the helpline team believe that a caller would benefit from face-to-face support, they can now also arrange for them to visit a new ‘safe haven’ that has been opened in Derby. At the safe haven, support workers from the charity Richmond Fellowship will offer further one-to-one support and help address issues that may be affecting the individual’s mental health or making them feel isolated within their community. The mental health Crisis services for Derbyshire will also work closely with the safe haven. 

New name for service

As a result of its new, wider role, the helpline has broadened its name to the Derbyshire Mental Health Helpline and Support Service. This name was chosen by local Derbyshire residents with lived experience of mental ill health. The helpline number remains the same – 0800 028 0077 – and it remains a 24/7 service for Derby and Derbyshire residents of all ages.

Since its launch in April 2020, the helpline has received around 1,500 calls a month from local residents. Recent feedback from callers during October and November 2020 has included:

  • “I spoke to a lovely woman who listened to everything I had to say and helped me calm down my panic attack. She was amazing”
  • “The advisor I spoke to was fantastic and understood my needs for phoning and helped me through a tough spot”
  • “Gave me advice, engaged me in conversation, gave me hope and reasons to live”.

Ifti Majid, Chief Executive of Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and chair of the Joined Up Care Derbyshire Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism Delivery Group, said: “This is a very important step forwards in supporting people who are struggling with their mental health. Many of the people who experience mental health distress, or find themselves in crisis, do not have a diagnosed mental health condition and are not already receiving mental health care; these are individuals who may be seeing a deterioration in their health due to a range of pressures and stresses they are facing in their everyday lives. Rapid and accessible support from trained advisers could make all the difference, and I’m excited to be working in partnership with organisations from across the NHS, the third sector and the emergency services to provide the best possible care to people at some of the most difficult times in their lives.”

Mick Burrows, Director of Commissioning for Mental Health, Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Children and Young People, NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “A great deal of work is taking place across the Derbyshire health and care system to support people who experience a mental health crisis or have difficulties coping with their mental health. Our local public health teams are investing in a range of training and support, including suicide awareness and suicide prevention training for GPs and other health professionals, and counselling for those who have lost a loved one due to suicide. Meanwhile our IAPT talking therapies services remain available to those who are experiencing more low-level but persistent mental health problems such as stress, anxiety or low mood.  Derbyshire has also introduced new services for children and young people, the details of which can be found on the Derbyshire Emotional Health and Wellbeing website:

“The helpline and safe haven are another important development as we seek to provide local residents with direct access to the very best mental health care and support.”