GP surgeries can now directly refer anyone experiencing mental health difficulties to The Bristol Wellbeing College, run by charity Second Step.
Previously, this kind of scheme was only available to people who had been through the hospital system. However, now with 12 different Bristol surgeries included, it is hoped that the new service will make it easier for patients to get help.
The sessions at the college cover all aspects of mental health, from anxiety management courses to giving people the tools to help them with their wellbeing.
Offering 90 places per month, the pilot scheme will be running until August 2021.
Deputy chief executive of Second Step, Andy Warren, said that the project would mean people do not have to “wait for [a] crisis before they access appropriate support”.
The scheme opens referrals to people who are not currently using mental health services and can access them directly through their GP.
In 2020, a group of NHS leaders said doctors saw a rise in people reporting severe mental health difficulties. Charity, Mind Bristol, also suggests that its helpline had risen by 50 per cent since the pandemic started. With Covid-19 accelerating the rate of mental health cases throughout Bristol, this new scheme has never come at a more important time.
Sharon Matthews, who has been attending the college’s online courses, said that she has “been through the mental health system and was not getting any better”, but The Bristol Wellbeing College had “really saved my life”.
To find out the 12 surgeries involved, from inner and east Bristol, please visit here.
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