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New Forest man urges others struggling with mental health to take advantage of support services such as NHS 111 and Shout text helpline

A NEW Forest man with a history of suicidal thoughts is urging others to take advantage of the mental health services available over Christmas and new year.

Ben (22) called NHS 111 one night after being told about the mental health triage service by a friend.

Having struggled with his mental health for some time, Ben was considering taking his own life before the 1am call.

Shout is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone struggling to cope
Shout is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone struggling to cope

He said: “I didn’t have anyone to call to help me – everyone I knew would have been asleep.

“Then I remembered NHS 111.”

Ben said the call handler was “a breath of fresh air” and added: “We chatted for what felt like hours, but it was probably only about 20 minutes or so, and not once did I feel like I was being rushed off the phone.”

Professional support for those who need advice and guidance is available through a variety of services including NHS 111, confidential text service Shout, and talking therapies.

Consultant psychiatrist and deputy chief medical officer for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Jez Rowland, said: “The last few years have not been easy and for many people the festive period will be really hard.

“Feelings of isolation and loneliness, grief for loved ones no longer here, as well as the stress of finances during a cost of living crisis can all pile up quickly.”

He added: “Simple things such as getting outside regularly, reframing thoughts, sleeping well and not over indulging can all help with resilience but if you are struggling there are a number of excellent services available that can provide support.”

NHS 111’s mental health triage service provides support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people of all ages.

The team has a wide range of skills including on the phone psychological intervention which allows a person to receive the care they need in the comfort of their own home.

The service ensures that people have easy access to support at the right time, and in the right place for them, including enabling people to get help mental health support before a problem becomes a crisis.

Free confidential text messaging support service Shout is also available across the UK 24/7 for anyone struggling to cope and will not show up on a phone bill.

You can text ‘shout’ to 85258 to speak with one of its trained volunteers.

In Hampshire, NHS Talking Therapies Hampshire – formerly known as iTalk – provides free treatment to people suffering from common mental health problems including depression, anxiety and stress.

It supports people to improve their mental wellbeing through education, guided self-help tools and evidence-based talking therapies.

A similar scheme known as Steps to Wellbeing is available to Dorset residents.

Anyone who has seriously harmed themselves or feels they may be suicidal should call 999 or head to their nearest emergency department.

Further support is also available by calling the Samaritans on 116 123.

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