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Vital out-of-hours helpline expands to help more people with their mental health

Independent mental health charity Suffolk Mind has expanded its support line service, Suffolk Night Owls (SNO), to 7 nights a week, thanks to funding from the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

SNO is a telephone, text and email service which currently operates on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 7pm to 1am. Due to increased demand on the service, leading to funding from the NHS, it will now run every night of the week.

SNO is available in Suffolk to people with complex emotional needs, including those with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or who present with behaviours typical of such conditions. Support line workers listen to clients in a non-judgemental way to support those who need a chat or are in crisis. The service is different to other helpline, like The Samaritans, in that all of our clients are pre-registered, enabling us to offer a personalised and tailored service to individuals who are seeking support in times of need. Suffolk Night Owls manages the service with strict boundaries in place in order to support and safeguard both those using the service and those working for it.

The SNO team take more than 4,500 calls, texts and emails a year and that figure is now expected to nearly double.

Becky Attwater, Deputy Manager of SNO said: “We’re so pleased to have received this funding from the NHS to support people in Suffolk during a time of day when other services are not running and people feel alone or are struggling with there own mental health difficulties.

“Suffolk Night Owls gives people an opportunity to talk about their feelings and daily struggles, providing a safe space for people to just be themselves in a non-judgemental environment  where they are heard and, where needed, offered advice and signposting.”

In an evaluation by Suffolk County Council, someone who uses the service gave the team this feedback: “Since using Suffolk Night Owls I have had no need to seek any other support. Not only are they there when I’m feeling suicidal, I can talk with them as a safety mechanism. This means if I am experiencing a really bad day, instead of doing what comes naturally by self-harming or self-medicating, I know I can speak to someone”

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, added: “The review of mental health services in Suffolk identified the need to expand Suffolk Night Owls. We are grateful to them for increasing our funding to allow us to provide this much valued service seven nights a week.

“We want to help as many people as possible to look after themselves and those around them. We’re aiming to prevent periods of serious mental ill health as much as possible, so that the stretched resources of the NHS can be there when people need them most.”

You can access the SNO service by self-referring here.

Author: Kristina Brinkley
Posted on: 21st October 2019

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