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Solent proud to join partners to launch new mental health crisis service in Portsmouth

The number of people living with mental health issues in Portsmouth and southeast Hampshire is on the rise – but a new health service launching this week aims to help tackle this problem.

The Harbour – a remote, out of hours mental health crisis service - is set to launch on Friday 17 September for people living in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and East Hampshire.

The Harbour aims to reduce the number of people who use the emergency and acute mental health services by preventing people reaching crisis point.

Figures from the ‘Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: survey of mental health and wellbeing’ from NHS Digital show the predicted prevalence of mental health problems for adults aged 18-64 in Portsmouth, Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight. The report predicts more than 26,000 people will have a common mental health disorder in 2025.

Steve Johns, The Harbour Service Manager, explains: “These predictions were made prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact of Covid-19 and the resulting economic depression is expecting to cause a considerable increase in mental ill health over the next three to seven years.

“In order to support those who are impacted by this, mental health services are being asked to treat more people and improve access to the right service at the right time. These figures show that it’s important now, more than ever, that we ensure we provide a service for people who feel they are at breaking point and need empathetic and positive support to get them through their self-defined crisis.

“The Harbour aims to do this and enable local people to continue on and improve their mental wellbeing to ensure they can thrive, not just survive.”

The service, to be piloted for 12 months, will be run by mental health charities Solent Mind and Havant and East Hants Mind in partnership with Solent NHS Trust and Health and Care Portsmouth, and is based on the successful crisis service in Southampton, the Lighthouse, staffed in partnership between Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust nurses and Solent Mind peers.

It will be unable to support people who need medical attention; incoherent under the influence of drinking alcohol or using drugs; threatening/aggressive behaviour; and are under 18.

The Harbour will initially launch during the busiest times of the week – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, open 4.30pm- 11pm. If people feel uncomfortable on the phone, they can also text, web chat or use video calls to access the service: 07418 364911.

Dr Nick Moore, Clinical Executive at Health & Care Portsmouth, said:  "I'm really excited for this new service to open up in Portsmouth. It's important that people have somewhere to go, out of hours, where they can talk to some with lived experience of Mental Health issues. We know the impact the Covid-19 Pandemic has had on peoples feeling of wellbeing and that many people are struggling with their mental health for the first time in their life, this service can support those people in times of need when most other services are closed for the night. We're looking forward to seeing how the Pilot of the service progresses and what we can achieve and learn from over the next 11 months."

Jo Perry, Operations Director, Mental Health Services, Solent NHS Trust, said: “We are really proud to be a partner in piloting The Harbour which will ensure that there is real-time support for people experiencing mental health problems, particularly in the evenings when we know people can feel even more lonely, isolated and vulnerable. We would encourage everyone who is struggling with their mental health in Portsmouth and southeast Hampshire to reach out to The Harbour because the team, with their lived experience, is brilliantly positioned to understand what support’s needed for that individual.”

Dr Zaid Hirmiz, a Horndean GP and the Clinical Director (South East Hampshire) for NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG, said: “I applaud the skills and knowledge of the partner organisations behind this hugely worthwhile project. People live with mental health problems every minute of the day, and it is well documented that this is now a vast problem for society. To have this crisis out-of-hours service on our doorsteps is hopefully going to help change many lives for the better.”

Here, Sherry, Solent Mind’s Programme Lead for Portsmouth Support and Recovery Services (pictured), shares her story:

“I've lived with depression since about the age of 12 but didn’t know it at the time. I worked really hard to ignore and avoid how I felt until I gave birth to my daughter and was diagnosed with post-natal depression. As time went on, I went on to study for my degree full time and was lucky enough to be able to access counselling at university. 

 After university, I was just about coping but I had lots of low times and was struggling to deal with my emotions and moods. This was difficult, and as a lone parent, with a home to run and a full time job, I begin to get very unwell. 

“When I was 35, I had a major depressive episode and was admitted to Elmleigh, a mental health hospital and took a career break for two years. I was diagnosed with depression, complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. After Elmleigh, I was supported by the Community Mental Health Team for 2 years and completed various therapies including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy , Schema therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR).

“When I was discharged from the mental health team, I eventually went back to work but continued to access counselling on and off for a number of years. Through an employment support provider, I got a job with Havant and East Hants Mind as a Wellbeing Worker, then was promoted to Wellbeing Manager.

“I then moved to Solent Mind where I am now the Programme Lead for Solent Mind's services in Portsmouth.

“I still dip in and out of counselling - talking therapy really works for me. I also take anti-depressant medication and use lots of wellbeing tools, rest, relaxation, being with friends/family, gardening, crafting, upcycling etc I have learnt a lot about myself throughout my mental health journey and believe I am a much better person because of this. 

“I see my mental health condition as always being part of me, accepting this and seeing the benefits that have been added to my life and work because of it.  I have taken control of my mental health and give myself the attention I need to live my quality of life alongside my symptoms.”

For more information, visit: https://www.solentmind.org.uk/support-for-you/our-services/the-harbour

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