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Questions raised about alternative provision and better signposting as Bristol CCG and Bristol Mental Health announce closure, then appear to U-turn.


The future of Bristol’s mental health ‘crisis line’ remains unclear after Bristol CCG and Bristol Mental Health announced last week it was going to close the service on November 30th, and then appeared to U-turn today.

The initial announcement provoked an online petition and statements expressing “deep concern” from independent service user-led group BIMHN (Bristol Independent Mental Health Network).

The phone line is designed for people experiencing mental health crisis and is manned by specialist mental health workers. Callers are signposted to other services as necessary, and in acute situations are attended to in person by the mental health crisis team.

The efficiency of the service has been called into question after a review found that the majority of calls to the service – 66% – were non-emergencies. The ‘clogging’ of the line has meant that some people in crisis are kept on hold and not receiving immediate support.

tabithapanter.comTom Renhard, secretary of BIMHN, acknowledges the problem. He says that other services’ available don’t often have their phone numbers well advertised, and neither is there a central contact line for queries – increasing pressure on the crisis line.

“The question remains, what are they doing to make sure the services are easily accessible and people are getting the right support? They wouldn’t be getting so many calls to that line if people knew where else to go,” explains Renhard.

BIMHN, who advise the CCG and council on mental health provision from service users’ perspectives, have argued that the initial decision to close the crisis line was made without adequate scrutiny of the causes behind the service’s problems or consideration for alternative options to closure.

The latest statement from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership describes the new approach as “not a service cut, but a service redesign”, but declined to clarify whether this meant the phone line was still at risk of closure.

It states: “This decision was made as part of a wider review that will improve the balance between planned and unplanned interventions within local mental health services. Both BMH and Bristol CCG are working closely with service users and carers to ensure they identify other resources to best meet the needs of those who access the line.”

On the apparent U-turn, Renhard commented:

“We welcome the climb down from the previous position of closing the crisis line. However we will be monitoring the situation very carefully and challenging any future proposals that are not in the interests of people accessing mental health services currently, or that may access them in the future. We feel it is really important that there is openness and transparency in these discussions at all times.”

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  • Viran says:

    Bristol CCG has set up BIMHN as an organisation, so therefore sometimes, has more influence that you may think. The problem it is fighting its self on this matter and it is not over !

  • Viran says:

    Ok it looks like it is closing the public service and people will only have a line, as part of their care plan: the petition continues I will keep people posted on this matter !

  • Ve says:

    I just tried to use the crisis line about 4.30 am. I felt like I might as well have called directory inquiries or the speaking clock, for the empathy I felt on the other end of the line. I was saying;; “I just need to talk to a human being”, in the present tense, and she kept saying; “You just needed too talk to a human being” in the past tense. And she had no idea that people with complex developmental trauma often experience recurring victimisation, because they’re conditioned to dissociate from the world around them in fear response, which makes them totally vulnerable. This is common knowledge even among mental health forum users, so where is the alleged “expertise” on the crisis line?
    I’m tired of trying to deal with an organisation (AWP) who’s “experts” know far less about my condition than I do, and consistently fail to listen or be informed by my insight.
    The consultant I saw recently misquoted my answers to questions like “Are you allergic to any meds” and actually mistakenly called my condition “complex trauma” instead of “complex developmental traumatic stress disorder” which is TOTALLY different because it includes developmental brain injuries AND childhood Pavlovian conditioning.
    I estimate that AWP are at least Ten years behind global standard practice and best outcomes treatment or understanding, as defined by Professor Diane Langberg, the U.N appointed expert sent to Rwanda to train trauma healers and treat the worst affected.
    I have worsening obsessive compulsive suicidal ideation, and I’ve almost lost all resistance to stop it taking over and winning out.
    I’ve lost 9 people I loved in the last 3 years, but there’s no bereavement help or support, and I’ve been rehoused in an alien place after 13 years of racial and disability hate crimes and home invasions, stabbings and credible death threats, but there’s no social re integration or emotional support at all.
    There’s no respite or retreat to gain long lost equilibrium. So what’s the point in engaging with AWP at all?
    They are never there when I need them. And they can’t even be bothered to give refresher courses so that at least some of them would know the first thing about CDTSD, which they don’t as they often call it PTSD, which is like a GP calling a life threatening crush injury a “minor contusion”.
    And PALS just seems to be a public image exercise. I think it would just be better all round if AWP we’re de-funded and patients got the money to seek actual therapy. AWP excludes childhood developmental trauma sufferers, in effect, by policy and collective ignorance.

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