Partnership case study: ‘Mental health helpline’ by Nottingham Community Housing Association

The Mental Health Helpline is a specialist service developed to meet local needs, bringing together the expertise of Nottingham’s leading statutory and voluntary sectors. The service will provide a listening ear, emotional support, signposting and referral into other services for individuals and the carers of people experiencing mental distress.

Our challenge

Adults with mental health problems are one of the most socially excluded groups in society, and one in four adults will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives.  Mental health and physical health are interlinked, with people with mental illness experiencing higher rates of morbidity and a lower life expectancy, and people with chronic physical health problems more likely to experience mental health problems.

Mental health problems impact on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole, with immense social and financial costs. 

The Nottingham City Joint Strategic Needs Assessment chapter on mental health outlines local prevalence of mental health problems and needs and identifies 6 strategic priorities. One of the priorities is to improve health and wellbeing, which in turn has a number of targets, one of which is to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the City.

Our solution                                  

The NCHA Mental Health Helpline is an out-of-hours telephone service that can be accessed by individuals suffering with mental health issues, or their family members and carers.

The helpline can be used anonymously or personally in order to generate referral into mental health support pathway.

The helpline will:

  • provide emotional support and a listening ear for people experiencing mental health distress
  • provide emotional support and a listening ear for the carers of people experiencing mental health distress
  • encourage service users and carers to develop and utilise their own coping skills in managing their mental health issues
  • encourage service users to achieve recovery
  • signpost people to other services, including mental health support services and other generic support services
  • provide a rapid response to people whose mental health has deteriorated to avoid a crisis and to ensure the caller can access the right support should they be experiencing a crisis

Callers are also made aware of other national help lines that are available.

Our impact

All our statistics are generated via our PNC5 system which captures call volumes, call reasons, personal data (age, race etc.). We have quarterly contract review meetings where we discuss the stats, look at times of calls and discuss any hot spots and look at where we need to promote the service.

Looking through the statistics provides us with vital information on when the helpline is utilised, we can see exactly what time someone has called. This has shown that at certain times of the day, the call volume fluctuates. It has also highlighted for example that we tend to receive fewer calls in the summer months than we do in the winter.

Future impact on the service:  Stats have been reviewed and when the re-modelling of service has been discussed, we used knowledge of call times and volumes to adjust our opening hours to meet demonstrated need.

Over the last 3 years we have taken over 22,000 calls.

Calls range from people in crisis, to suicidal callers and on a lower support element, someone who is looking for additional support for family members.

Our partners

We partner with the following services to deliver the scheme:

Health Commissioners: NHS Nottingham City CCG

  • Pathway partners: Advocacy support, wellbeing service, ISAS for specialised counselling for people who have suffered sexual abuse
  • Mind befriending scheme
  • The recovery college
  • Carers federation
  • Fit for work services

We also work closely with the following national agencies:

  • Samaritans
  • Sane
  • Mind
  • Young Minds

Signposting to these other organisations is imperative, especially where there is a specialist service that can better assist, or provide information to the individual. Examples include BEAT (for eating disorders), OCD Action (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), No Panic (panic attacks), and FRANK (substance misuse).

Our role                           

Appropriate housing is crucial to an individual’s mental health and wellbeing. The Mental Health Helpline supports clients to identify improvements that can be made to their housing environment and signpost to appropriate agencies where necessary.

Being part of Nottingham Community Housing Association allows for a close working relationship between local housing and supported living providers, which individuals can access via the helpline.

Our contribution to improving health

The Mental Health Helpline contributes to the following framework outcomes:

NHS Outcomes Framework:

  • reducing premature mortality in people with mental illness
  • enhancing quality of life for people with mental illness
  • improving experience of healthcare for people with mental illness

Locally defined outcomes:

  • greater independence and increased stability of service users
  • improved health and wellbeing of individuals supported
  • reduced unnecessary referrals to and dependency upon statutory services
  • more timely engagement with statutory services, where intervention is necessary to prevent further deterioration in the service user’s health, or a crisis
  • improved support for carers