New mental health crisis service launches in Portsmouth

The number of people living with mental health issues in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire is on the rise – but a 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 hospital 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 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 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- If people feel uncomfortable on the phone, they can also text, web chat or use video calls to access the service: 07418 364 911.

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.”

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