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Hundreds of people in South Holland area are waiting for help with mental health

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Hundreds of people in our district are currently waiting for help with their mental health - with the situation being branded ‘critical’.

A total of 425 people in the PE12 and PE11 post code areas are in desperate need of help with their mental health, figures from a Freedom of Information request submitted by this paper reveal.

The data from United Lincolnshire NHS Hospitals Trust (ULHT), for the end of the financial year 2021/22, also shows that the average wait period from referral to beginning therapy is eight and a half weeks - although anecdotal evidence suggests many are waiting much longer than this.

Hundreds in South Holland are waiting for help PHOTO: iStock.com
Hundreds in South Holland are waiting for help PHOTO: iStock.com

However, health bosses have admitted that waiting times are currently higher than they would like - and have cited staff shortages as a factor.

South Holland District Council chairman Paul Redgate said: “The numbers show that the area has a critical need for support for those with mental health issues.”

However, Vanessa Browning of Spalding-based Community Mind Matters, says this average wait time isn’t a true reflection of what she sees in her work within the district.

Vanessa Browning (left) and Emma Rose of the Community Mind Matters Running Group (49882102)
Vanessa Browning (left) and Emma Rose of the Community Mind Matters Running Group (49882102)

“We know it’s much worse than that,” she said.

“I speak to a lot of people who are waiting much longer for the help they need from the NHS and while it looks good on paper, with the online services, the help isn’t there.

“I went through hell and back before I got my counselling. I had to wait three days when I asked for help before anyone got in touch with me. Anything could have happened.

“While I was given basic help, it wasn’t enough and I ended up going private. But people just haven’t got the money to do that.”

Vanessa, who set up her group in order to help others who struggle with mental health issues, tries to ensure people in the community get the help they need.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) says the number of referrals to steps2change increased during the pandemic - which also had an impact on staff shortages.

Vanessa added: “Unfortunately, people have to get into a deep hole before they get the help they need but for me, it’s all about prevention and helping to stop people from getting to that point.

“I have to give people the alternatives because I know what is out there and I wouldn’t wish anxiety, depression or any form of mental health issues on anyone. The numbers are shocking and this will get much worse.”

During 2021/22, the average age of people accessing the steps2change service in our area was 37.

However, Vanessa says this also differs from what she sees - citing an average age of about 50, most of whom are men.

Paul Redgate, chairman of South Holland District Council, agrees with Vanessa - and has described the situation as ‘critical’.

He has called for more support for those in our area who are struggling with their mental health.

Coun Redgate, who supports mental health charity Mindas part of his role, said: “The numbers show that the area has a critical need for support for those with mental health issues.

“We need organisations and bodies to offer as much support as possible and welcome any initiative which can be used to draw out the help needed.

“While I recognise there is a strain on the health service, I hope that if we keep banging the drum on these issues we will find a way to reduce these numbers.”

Claire Hancox, service manager for steps2change at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Waiting times for our steps2change service are currently higher than we would like, impacted largely by an increase in referrals during the pandemic, but also unavoidable staff sickness connected with Covid-19 and service user appointment cancellations.

“We are committed to ensuring our service users receive support in a timely manner and are working closely with our commissioners to increase capacity to meet this growing demand.

“We are pleased to have already agreed some further investment which will increase the number of staff available, and we will shortly be recruiting to these roles.

“In addition to increasing capacity, we also take a stepped care approach to treatment. This approach includes providing access to groups, online workshops and self-help support initially, with the opportunity to step up and access other therapies, such as one-to-one sessions, where further help is required.

“Whilst people are waiting, we make regular contact to assess any changing needs and signpost to other services which might be appropriate, including our 24/7 mental health helpline on 0800 001 4331 and crisis support should this be required.”

Where you can find help

Health bosses have pointed to a number of outlets across the district where people struggling with their mental health can access help.

Rock School Bus CIC

Rollin Rock Cafe is a mobile music facility on a double decker bus with a state-of-the-art sound system, full set of electronic instruments and free Wi-Fi.

Two local specialists run creative, innovative music-centred activities that aim to revive hope, confidence, resilience and awareness of mental health.

Everyone working on these sessions has lived experience and knows music is a powerful tool in recovery and health management.

They run twice weekly for one hour. Contact Amber Sinclair at: therockschoolbus@gmail.com

Adults Supporting Adults (ASA Shared Lives)

This is an early intervention and good mental health project, offering one-to-one community support either face-to-face or via telephone.

It is carried out by a community support worker matched to each individual accessing the service.

This service is for new referrals and people waiting for an adult social care assessment to be carried - and those who need urgent early intervention.

It can support individuals by carrying out activities of daily living, including maintaining the home, dealing with correspondence, making and attending appointments, accessing the community and promoting social inclusion.

They work seven days a week subject to capacity.

Contact:Stephen Johnson at: admin@asaorg.co.uk.

Tonic Health Safe Places

Tonic Health Safe Places provides non-clinical, non-judgemental drop-in sessions for people to go along, have a drink and a biscuit where they are made to feel at home amongst others facing similar situations.

The group holds a main meeting every Tuesday from 4:30-6:30pm.

Drop-in sessions are for over 18s, and people don’t have to book - they can just turn up.

The sessions are as follows: Monday (am) - Tea n’ Toast; Tuesday (pm) Arts & Crafts; Thursday (am) Men’s Group; Thursday (pm) Autisic Led for Adults; Friday (pm) Coffee and Catch Up.

They are currently negotiating a lease on a former Youth Centre so that in the future they can offer a youth provision for under 18s.

Contact Michael Morris or Ruth Taplin at: safeplaces@tonic-health.co.uk.

Veterans Support Services CIC

Project R&R delivers peer support to the veteran community via those who are both veterans and have lived experience of poor mental health.

They hold sessions from Monday-Friday.

Contact Simon Hallam at: info@vsscic.org.uk

The steps2change website also contains useful information and resources.

Visit www.lpft.nhs.uk/steps2change/home

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