Brave Steve shares his life-saving experience as new mental health service is rolled out after being trialled in Thurrock

By Neil Speight

11th Aug 2022 | Local News

THURROCK has played a major role in the establishment of a new specialist mental health service - and one borough man has told how it literally saved his life.

The service, which includes mental health and social care professionals as well as voluntary and community organisations, allows adults struggling with their mental health to quickly and easily access the support they need, close to home in GP surgeries.

It has been successfully trialled in Thurrock.

Previously people could wait up to 28 days to speak to a mental health professional; the integrated mental health teams aim to support people with mental health needs as quickly as possible, within seven days, depending on the urgency of the patient's need.

Alfred Bandakpara-Taylor, Deputy Director of Adult Mental Health for Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System, said: "The new service, which integrates mental health care into GP surgeries, puts the patient firmly at the centre of the service, with a wide range of professional and community services surrounding them, based on their individual needs."

The new service is already proving successful. Mid and south Essex has recently been recognised as one of the best-performing areas nationally for the completion of Severe Mental Illness (SMI) Physical Health Checks, with Castle Point and Rochford, Southend and Thurrock appearing in the top ten out of 106.

People living with SMI are at risk of dying on average 15 to 20 years earlier than other people - one of the greatest health inequalities in England. Improving access to physical health checks for people with SMI is part of the NHS Five Year Forward View for Mental Health2.

Thurrock GP Dr Rajan Mohile said: "This new service has been developed by local people, service users and their carers as well as partners right across the health, social, voluntary and community sectors.

"For our service users, it means they can access the mental health support they need quickly, close to home, helping to prevent those with mental health needs from reaching crisis point whenever possible.

"The service also works well, as it leads to better outcomes for local people and relieves pressure on our appointments."

Steve, 55, from Thurrock, tried to take his own life, following issues with his health. Once Steve left hospital, his GP referred him to the new mental health service. Talking about the service, Steve said: "I got a call from the new Mental Health Practitioner just a few days after leaving hospital. With the support of the service, which also put me in touch with other local organisations that can help me, I'm now getting out more and making contact with new people.

"I've started exercising and I even go swimming a couple of times a week. Connecting with people is so important. The service gave me a way back to a life I can recognise as normal."

Steve's story features in a new campaign called 'Moments that Matter', which highlights how collaborative working between health professionals and community organisations is resulting in better outcomes for residents. You can learn more about the campaign in the video presentation with this story.


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