NHS Commissioners in Greater Huddersfield, North Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield, Leeds and Barnsley have invested almost half a million pounds into a new mental health helpline for local residents.

The contract worth £490,000 to provide a 24 hour, 7 day a week mental health helpline has been awarded to NCHA Care and Support. It has been developed in line with national guidance. The new service will complement mental health services already available in the local area.

The six CCGs have worked together to commission the telephone helpline which will support people experiencing emotional distress. Trained telephone advisors will be able to signpost and refer people into local services for further help. Evidence shows by providing access to mental health support 24/7 provides an alternative to attending A&E.

The telephone helpline will be available to anyone registered with a GP practice in the six areas. People do not have to have used mental health services before. Carers, or those concerned about a loved one or friend, will also be able to telephone for advice.

1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental health problem in their lifetime.

Vicky Dutchburn, Head of Strategic Planning, Performance and Delivery at Greater Huddersfield CCG, which is the lead commissioning organisation for the service said: “We are committed to supporting our local residents maintain a healthy mind by putting in place direct access to support which is available 365 days a year. The service was identified as a priority area by the NHS in the Mental Health Forward View, but comes at a time when more people are experiencing stress and anxiety due to the Coronavirus.”

Tracey Ward, Contracts Manager Personalised Support and Assistive Technology, NCHA Care and Support said:  “We are living in troubling times and know this is having an impact on many people’s mental health. More than ever people are going to need support and guidance to get the help they need. We are delighted to have been appointed by Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group to offer this new 24 hour helpline, to support anyone seeking support for their mental health needs and their carers.”

NCHA Care and Support is now working with commissioners to implement the new service, which will start this month.

In addition, support for health and social care staff and volunteers in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield has also been put in place. All healthcare workers, those working in care homes, providing home care (domiciliary care) and the thousands of volunteers who have registered to support their local health and care services respond to COVID-19 can access the support for 12 months.

Health Assured has been awarded a contract by Greater Huddersfield CCG to provide support for up to 15,000 individuals through the Employee Assistance Programme starting from this month. A 24/7 helpline offers structured counselling sessions, legal information, management support, help with financial issues and family and relationship matters. People can also access information through an app.

The support is in addition to wellbeing offers already in place at workplaces and resources put in place by the NHS nationally.

Vicky Dutchburn added: “It’s important we look after the people who look after others. We recognise working through the Coronavirus pandemic can be challenging and emotional. Staff and volunteers are balancing additional demands of work and family life during this time. This support has been put in place to help staff and volunteers stay healthy and protect their emotional wellbeing.”