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Mental Health Awareness Week: New-look service which will give people in Suffolk easier access to help for anxiety, stress and depression

​More details of a new-look service which will give people in Suffolk easier access to help for anxiety, stress and depression along with advice to safeguard their wellbeing have been revealed by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The Suffolk Primary Care Mental Health Service, otherwise known as Wellbeing Suffolk, will launch in the autumn and will expand and improve on NSFT’s existing Suffolk Wellbeing Service while offering help to more people of all ages each year.

The service will work proactively to support people to have a good life rather than waiting for them to become ill. It will also offer talking therapies to those with more serious mental health problems who would traditionally be referred to specialist mental health services.

Its aim is to reach as many patients as early as possible within GP practices or community settings, creating greater access and better responsiveness and focusing on early intervention to help prevent issues in the longer term.

The news comes during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday (22 May), and focuses on the importance of good relationships in maintaining mental health.

Nesta Reeve, Clinical Lead for NSFT's Wellbeing services, said: “The service will be very innovative and creative. We will work proactively with employers, councils, education providers, public health and other NHS providers to focus on what they can do to help people have a good life, rather than waiting for them to become ill then providing treatment.

“We will also be treating people holistically – if someone is depressed because of social isolation, for example, we will look at how they increase their connections, such as by starting an evening class or joining a club.

“From the start of the service, we will co-produce interventions with our service users so that we know they are what people want and need. By working with our stakeholders, evaluating our data, and reviewing outcomes, we will be best placed to know what works and what doesn’t, which will allow us to put our resources to the best possible use.”

To deliver the service, NSFT will sub-contract a wide variety of community and third sector organisations to provide a range of interventions to boost wellbeing, such as support for carers. As well as allowing the service to reach more people, this will also help build resilience within the community by boosting the funding available to the third sector.

Anna Vizor, Acting Service Manager and Lead Clinician, said: “This new service will focus on working within communities and with the third sector and other partners to provide services or support people so that they can become integrated within their community more effectively, in turn reducing isolation and preventing ill health. This will include working more closely with public health to look at what communities need to stop people from getting unhappy in the first place.

“We are really looking forward to working closely and collaboratively with our service users, partners and other local groups over the coming months to develop our plans further so that we can make sure our service truly meets the needs of the people of Suffolk.”

Dr John Hague, mental health lead for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Having good mental health is an essential part of living a happy and healthy life. We are confident the new service will build on the good work already delivered by the Suffolk Wellbeing Service by expanding its reach and working more closely with voluntary and community organisations.

“A key feature of the service is that it will have a family-based approach and will now provide help for those aged under 16 years, and improved access to services will be achieved by closer working with GP practices.

“We will also see the service working closely with people who are living with more serious mental health conditions and who may previously have required treatment in a specialist mental health unit or hospital. Evidence shows that many people have a more effective recovery away from these environments and we want to increase the level of community-based interventions.

“Improving mental health services remains a priority for health commissioners and we expect the new service to have a positive effect on the lives of local people.”

NSFT was awarded the five-year contract to run the service earlier this spring following a competitive tendering process by West Suffolk and Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Patients will be able to self-refer as well as be referred via their GP.