The call-line is part of a suite of early intervention methods, which also includes a Live Web Chat instant messenger service and an email address operated by trained staff to address mental health concerns. The trio of services comes at a critical point for NHS mental health services: since the start of the pandemic, there has been a sharp surge in the number of people reporting mental health issues, and with the third national lockdown being announced this week, this is only set to rise further. The latest studies predict that up to 10 million people in England will need either new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 crisis, pushing the already strained services to a critical point.

Speaking about the new initiative, Sean O’Rourke, mental health nurse and manager at NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG commented: “This new 24-hour phone-line, alongside the LiveChat and email service, are so desperately needed, and so much hard work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure that we can offer an optimised, efficient, and simple service for those who need it in our region.

“The nation’s mental health is at an all-time low, with economic, health and social uncertainty and insecurity being acutely felt by so many. Therefore, we know that it is more important than ever that people have the ability to seek and receive help when they need it; getting timely targeted support before their mental health deteriorates further.”

The phone-line is accessible to anyone who is living in Birmingham and Solihull. Whether they are dealing with anxiety and worry; experiencing burn-out or stress; or simply feeling a little down: the phone-line provides all with a safe space to talk to a therapist, as well as giving referral access to immediate counselling support if required. Added to this, the LiveChat – which is open from 10am-9pm – delivers the same service, meaning those who are nervous about picking up the phone can still receive help in real-time from trained staff. What’s more, it offers a translation service, meaning that those seeking assistance can do so in whatever language suits them best.

Helen Wadley, the CEO of Birmingham Mind, added: “The phone-line, LiveChat, and email services are available to all in the region, and we cannot stress enough that they are there to be used. Too often, we’re seeing people reach out for help far too late, and – like physical health – we know that the earlier we detect a problem, the quicker and easier it is to resolve”.

CEO at Living Well UK, Ben Howells, concluded: “Our expert staff and therapists are on hand around the clock, so pick up the phone and give us a call. If you’re not sure what you need, if you feel like it’s all getting too much, or if you simply can’t do it alone, it’s okay – we’re here to help you.”