New mental health text service launched following success of Cheshire and Merseyside’s 24/7 mental health crisis lines

Since the start of the pandemic, Trusts across Cheshire and Merseyside were at the forefront in recognising that restrictions would have an adverse effect on people’s mental health.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan to improve access to mental health support, Trusts set-up 24/7 mental health crisis lines. These lines are there to ensure that people get the right level of support, at the right time, for their specific needs.

The crisis lines were set-up by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, North West Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust and Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. Together, they have ensured that more than 93,200 people across Cheshire and Merseyside could get the urgent care they needed at the time they needed it.

A service user who called the line set up by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “They stopped me killing myself. This line really helped and saved my life. I want to say a big thank you to everyone.”

Mental health continues to be a priority for the NHS, and our mental health providers quickly mobilised the lines ahead of schedule in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building on the successful outcomes of the crisis lines, provider Trusts across Cheshire and Merseyside have teamed up with the mental health charity ‘Shout 85258’ to provide a free 24/7 text messaging service.

The service will provide support for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or is struggling to cope. Working directly with patients, the service will help take the next steps towards feeling better. Patients can text to talk about issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Each provider Trust has a unique keyword that the service user will text to 85258, which will then put them in contact with a trained mental health professional.

A team member at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We all need support from time to time and being able to offer our services in this way has really inspired greater satisfaction from my role over the last 12 months. I feel there are fewer barriers when accessing our services than ever before and it’s improving constantly.”

Jo Watts, Associate Director, Specialist Mental Health Services for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“For children, adults, older people and their families the benefits have been enormous. To have direct, free, safe and effective access to crisis support is so invaluable.

“We are able to support people who call as quickly as possible, as they can make contact with us direct without having to access primary care or other avenues. They can speak to a practitioner who can assist them in accessing the right support for their circumstances.

“Going forward we want to build on what we have achieved so far and further work with partners to continue this great work, so that we can provide a coordinated place-based response that is focused around what people need, as part of an urgent care response system. Our partners in the public sector and third sector have been vitally important to the first year of the service.”

Jimmy Cousineau, Urgent Care Clinical Lead for Mersey Care, said:

“Implementing a self-referral, all age, 24/7 freephone service was imperative to the mental health needs of our service users and their support networks. We wanted to offer urgent clinical support to anyone in our communities at their most vulnerable times. We quickly experienced a significant number of successful outcomes for service users, with straightforward access to our qualified mental health practitioners, who have vast specialist skills and experience.

“We’re supporting professional stakeholders, such as GPs and community services, by reducing their need for involvement, and also collaboratively working with emergency services by deploying practitioners to undertake joint visits. This means our service users, where appropriate, can stay within their homes and communities. 

“Offering timely triage, assessment and support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic afforded us the opportunity to revisit our urgent care model. We’re building on the success of what we’ve achieved, the foundations are in place, and we will redefine a truly innovative mental health urgent care service for the future.”