Doubling in emergency mental health calls reported in Doncaster

Calls to a service which provides care to emergency mental health patients in Doncaster have more than doubled since pre-lockdown.

Saturday, 19th September 2020, 12:30 pm

Kelly Hicks, who set up the People Focused Group, one of the partner organisations behind the Safe Space service in Intake, estimates calls have surged from around 300 a month before the coronavirus crisis, to around 800 a month at present.

And much of the rise has come since lockdown ended in June.

Social worker Kelly is among those running the Safe Space service at Intake, having previously set up the People Focused Group to help people suffering from mental health problems with mutual support, which is one of the organisations running the Safe Space.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Staff and Volunteers at the Safe Space in Intake, Doncaster, which is designed to help people who are suffering a mental health crisis

She said: “We are getting about 40 new referrals a week – it is going up and up and up. We are doubling on referrals and people are needing support for longer.

"There were some who could deal with the lockdown situation, but when things restarted they felt their world had been slowed down and they were struggling to catch up again. Under lockdown, they didn’t feel the pressure, but when it lifted they felt they had to catch up with what they had not done.

"We were not only getting people we would usually get, I think we were also getting people who could not get support they may have elsewhere before lockdown.

"We got people who couldn’t access video meetings, or people with problems with using phones for mental health reasons.

"We heard from a lot of people who were seriously considering suicide. We usually get people saying they are suicidal, and when you talk to them say they have plans of how to do it. People are getting in touch for the first time with serious plans.

"There are people with serious financial problems, people with substance abuse issues, and domestic violence victims.

"There is no sign of it easing off.”

She said the centre was currently putting in a number of bids for funding to extend its opening hours from its current five hours a day.

This week they also carried out 10 face to face meetings with people classed as being at significant risk.

She said there were other services which had been running throughout the lockdown who they had been working with, such as the Hill Top Centre in Edlington which has provided advice on debt and benefits, and many groups were supporting each other.

The borough’s Safe Space was launched late last year as a joint scheme between NHS Doncaster CCG, Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, People Focused Group, Mind and Open Minds.

It was set up as a pioneering scheme to provide a safe place for those suffering a mental health crisis. It is designed to steer them well away from the emergency department, and into a place staffed by volunteers who are well placed to help them.

Accessed through a single point of access phone line, the service uses peer and voluntary support to provide initial help, and then close assistance in the following days and weeks.

Volunteers work from 4.30pm until 9pm every day.