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24/7 online support pilot in Hounslow

03 Feb 2014

West London Mental Health NHS Trust is launching a new online resource for people across Hounslow to get people talking about their mental health needs in the same week that the national campaign, Time to Change, is raising awareness of the need to address mental health problems and challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.

Time to Talk Day is taking place on 6 February 2014 and is aimed at getting more people to talk about mental health than ever before by encouraging us to have conversations with friends, family members or colleagues.

One way West London Mental Health NHS Trust is trying to increase the dialogue people have about mental health problems is by working with ‘Big White Wall’ to create an online service which allows users to discuss their mental health concerns and find support with other people experiencing similar problems.

The service, which is being piloted by the trust, is safe and secure and will be monitored 24 hours a day by trained counsellors.  Users will also be able to access a range of self help materials and courses which can help them to manage their mental health better.

Dr Dominic Glover manages the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) service in Hounslow which delivers psychological therapies and return to employment support for adults with depression and anxiety.

He said: “This is a web based platform which has been tried in the UK and other countries and allows patients, or those looking for specialised support, to access help during the day or at night.  We are piloting it in Hounslow and will be evaluating how effective it is here.

“This is a service, provided free by the NHS, which will not identify users in any way.  It is aimed at helping people who maybe suffering in silence with a mental health problem or who have been referred to our service to begin talking about their problems.”

Dr Glover added: “For some, connecting with others experiencing mental distress can help them to deal with their own problems.  The whole philosophy of the IAPT service is about improving access to help – this tool allows people to access self help at a time that suits them best, from the comfort of their own home.”

This pilot is being funded jointly by Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and West London Mental Health NHS Trust.

Nicky Runeckles, Big White Wall’s director of business sevelopment, said: “We’re delighted to be working in Hounslow, and look forward to providing safe, anonymous support 24/7 to residents who are struggling with mental health conditions. Across the UK 24% of adults can now get free access to Big White Wall, and the service has been successful at helping up to 95% of members feel better.”

Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, said: “Mental health problems affect one in four of us and yet many people suffer in silence because as a population we are too afraid to talk about the subject. We know that just a few small words can sometimes make the biggest difference, whether that’s over a cup of tea and a chat or a text message from someone asking how you are. This is why on Thursday 6 February we want more people than ever to join our Time to Talk Day and have a conversation about mental health.”