Published on: 12 April 2021

Derbyshire Mental Health Helpline and Support Service, a free, 24-hour helpline offering support to those with mental health issues in Derbyshire, is one year old this week.

The helpline, which is free to call on 0800 028 0077, is provided by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as an innovative collaboration involving the NHS, third sector organisations and the emergency services.

The support line was initially launched on 6 April 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in recognition that the pandemic was going to have an impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

From taking its first calls on 6 April 2020 up to 31 March 2021, the helpline has taken an amazing 19,342 calls from local residents; an average of more than 1,600 a month, or more than 50 a day. In recent months the figure has been as many as 2,200 calls a month. 

Derby and Derbyshire residents of any age who are struggling with their mental health can dial 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 or anxiety. 

The 24/7 helpline has now become 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 helpline now has its own web address – which takes people directly to a webpage with full details of the service and what it can offer. 
Working alongside the P3 team are 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 have the option to escalate a call to one of the helpline’s clinically trained mental health professionals. Colleagues on the clinical team 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.

Feedback from callers has included:

  • “The young lady who answered my call was very understanding and put me at ease. I have never been able to talk about my anxiety, so it was nice to know I was not alone and there is somewhere to contact.”
  • “Very understanding and coping strategies were discussed, I did not feel rushed and was given time to talk about my problems. I felt understood and supported.”
  • “I can’t thank you enough. You are all wonderful vigilant individuals, helpful, supportive, kind and resourceful. I have utmost respect for the help and support I have received.”

The helpline has also received very positive feedback from partner organisations, including:

  • Comment from colleague within East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS): 
    “I successfully used the Derbyshire Mental Health Triage number, allowing me to safely leave a patient at home with an urgent mental health review booked in for that day. This is the third time in three weeks that I have used this with a positive outcome. I find the mental health nurses are very helpful, allowing an alternative pathway plan to be made. Thanks again for all the support.”
  • EMAS paramedic commented about a lead nurse on the helpline:
    “He is a credit to the helpline team, and is proactive member who is always willing to answer calls, help with queries and is enthusiastic to attend face-to-face assessments. I have attended four patients with him now and on each occasion have found him to display professionalism, empathy and a genuine desire to help. He has also ensured that the outcome has been a joint decision-making process, involving me throughout.”
  • A social worker who had contacted the mental health hub said:
    “The nurse I spoke to was very helpful and enabled a joined-up working of social care and police in terms of managing and responding to a particular service user.”
  • The head of mental health services at EMAS commented:
    “Just wanted to say a huge thank you for all your support, time and commitment to the hub. It is a great example of partnership working to improve patient safety.”

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: “We are delighted to mark the first anniversary of our mental health helpline. The helpline has supported and helped many Derbyshire people who have struggled with their mental health to start to deal with their difficulties and move forward. Rapid and accessible support from trained advisers can make all the difference.”