A new High Street NHS and community mental health hub celebrated its gala opening in the heart of Abingdon’s town centre.
Proclaiming the Bury Street hub officially open Town Crier Tim Hunt encouraged local people to pop in and find out more about mental health care.
“You don’t have to shout about it,” he bellowed to delighted onlookers, “but I encourage you to call in and talk”.
Adults experiencing mental health challenges are able to draw on support from the hub thanks to NHS mental health professionals, Peers Support workers who have their own experience of mental health challenges, services which help people to remain in work or find employment and third-sector mental health services, in order to thrive among friends, family and their community. The hub is also linked to their local GP surgeries in Abingdon and surrounds.
It is hoped the hub will make it easier than ever for people in the community to access mental health care easily when they need it most.
Since it opened in March more than 150 people have already attended drop-ins, with another near 300 referred by their GP. There have been 178 group session attendances and 517 individual appointments with Primary Mental Health staff.
Among those attending the event were town councillor Tom Greenaway, district councillor Helen Pighills and county councillor and cabinet member for public health, inequalities and community safety, Nathan Ley.
The hub is one of three recently launched hubs in Oxfordshire which have been developed with adults who use mental health services in Abingdon and around the county. People said they would like to see more specialist care available at local level via their GP surgery, and improved communication between GPs and mental health services.
Alongside specialist mental health professionals are Peer Support Workers, who have their own experience of mental health challenges, and Individual Placement Support.
Most recently Peer Support Workers have worked with local artists who have a connection to mental health to create a display of local art with the theme of Hope, Community and wellbeing.
Peer Support Workers are also co-designing peer-led groups including an expressive writing group for women, a men’s mental health group and a carers support group.
Plans are already underway for three more Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hubs which will be opening up in town centres and communities across the county. A keystone is the central stone, or principle, which holds a building or system together.
Mental health nurse and hub manager Beth Morphy from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will lead a Primary Care Mental Health Team at the hub. She said:
“It’s just wonderful to be able to welcome people from the community to call in and talk to us about their mental health. We all have mental health and we all have physical health and we experience ups and downs with both. The hub makes it really convenient for people who experience ongoing mental health challenges to get support when they need it. We’ll also be on hand to help people who use our services with other aspects of their life which can be affected by or influence their mental health challenges including relationships, leisure and socialising, accommodation, finances, employment, training and education.”
Dr David Chapman, Clinical Mental Health Lead for the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board (which is responsible for commissioning and funding of local health and care services) said:
“Our priority is to help people with serious and complex mental health illness lead better lives with the support they need. Keystone hubs will help these patients by providing them with access to a team of dedicated mental health professionals in their communities across Oxfordshire. This new NHS service will also enable GPs to work very closely with health staff in the hubs to ensure their patients receive care and treatment closer to their homes making it easier to get the support they require.”
Chief Executive of Elmore Community Services, one of the third sector Keystone providers, Tom Hayes said:
“Elmore’s caseworkers play a crucial role, providing support to people with mental ill health closer to their homes and communities. Our caseworkers work closely with our NHS colleagues to provide flexible and person-centred support. Elmore is proud to be supporting the new mental health hubs and belong to the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership.”
Non-urgent advice: Accessing the Hub
Open Monday to Friday.
Seeing patients by appointment 9.00am to 5.00pm.
Available for the public to call in 10.00am to 12.00pm and 1.00pm to 3.00pm.
Phone: 01865 903 249
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Published: 31 October 2023