Crisis Line Update

October 19, 2016 at 6:15 pm

Concerns raised by Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN) over the proposed changes to the crisis line are being addressed.

In response to our petition, which over 4,400 people have signed, we have been meeting regularly with both Bristol Mental Health and Bristol CCG to ensure concerns raised are heard. This will take place as part of a wider review in an attempt to help people get access to the right support at the right time in the right place.

A project board with working groups has been created, with involvement from service users and carers to work collaboratively in shaping future improvements to the crisis line. The work is also exploring how we can improve provision of information relating to how to access mental health services in the city. We want to hear your ideas and suggestions on how to do this, so we can work as a city to improve mental health services for current and future potential users & their families and friends.

These were two of our three key demands from the petition, and we welcome the approach by both Bristol Mental Health and Bristol CCG to work more closely with service users and carers on working through how crisis service provision can be improved for those that need it most.

We will also be hosting an open meeting on Wednesday 26th October 2016, from 2 until 4 pm at the Station on Silver Street, Bristol. You can register your attendance by going to our Eventbrite page.


Bristol Mental Health and Bristol CCG’s latest joint statement can be found below.


Working with service users to improve mental health crisis line – Bristol Mental Health

Solutions for redeveloping Bristol Mental Health’s (BMH) crisis line are currently being explored by staff, service users and representative groups to ensure people in mental health crisis get the support they need faster.

Following discussions with some service users and representative groups, we recognise that initial discussions around making changes to the line have caused some concern. We are grateful for the comments and feedback so far which have been very valuable in informing the redevelopment work.

Through a specific project board, we are working collaboratively to identify ways to improve the service. The board is made up of service users and carers, elected officers from Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN), as well as staff from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust and NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Currently the crisis line is being used for much more than its intended purpose, which is to offer specialist intervention to people in mental health crisis.

More than two thirds (66%) of callers to the crisis line are seeking advice, general information or to check appointments. This is making it harder for those in mental health crisis, as well as professionals supporting those in mental health crisis, to get through.

The project board is therefore looking at ways in which those with more general or administrative enquiries can receive timely answers to their questions, whilst those in urgent, mental health crisis can be fast-tracked for immediate support.

In the meantime, the crisis line will continue to be available as it is now. Working together, we will ensure that people are able to access the support or advice they need in a timely and accessible manner.
For more information, or to offer feedback / ideas please email”

October 19, 2016 at 6:15 pm | News | No comment

Our response to latest Crisis Line Statement

August 27, 2016 at 9:23 pm

crisis line closure

We are disappointed by the recent statement released by Bristol Mental Health and Bristol CCG, which now states that the public crisis line will be closed.

This is a u-turn on Bristol Mental Health’s previous statement which said that the telephone service will not be cut, but “redesigned”.

Their latest communication says that a 24 hour telephone line service will continue to be available, however this is only for people who have been referred to the line by professionals, or for people as “part of their identified support”.

Whilst we acknowledge that it is good to hear there will still be a line for some, we have real concerns about what support there will be for those where access to the crisis line is not “part of their identified support”; for those that don’t access mental health services; and for those from transient parts of the population, such as university students that may have a crisis.

It is imperative that there is access to a 24 hour crisis line for all that need it in Bristol. It is also vital that additional alternatives are identified to provide people not in crisis with emotional support where it is required to help prevent any further deterioration in their wellbeing.

We feel that communication from Bristol Mental Health and Bristol CCG has been unclear, and we are concerned about the anxiety that it is causing people. We urge both organisations to give a clear stance on their decision and respond to our calls for a public meeting, taking into consideration the large number of concerns that have arisen as part of our campaign.

We are meeting with both organisations on Friday 9th September, and will post a further update shortly after then.

The latest statement from Bristol Mental Health can be found here.

Want to support our campaign? Click here to sign the petition.

August 27, 2016 at 9:23 pm | News | No comment

Free reading group taster sessions

August 25, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Shared reading groups will be starting up in several libraries across Bristol from this September.

These will be hosted by The Reader, an award-winning charitable social enterprise whose aim is to bring about a reading revolution, connecting people from all communities and backgrounds with great literature for improved well-being.

The sessions are free to attend and open to people of all ages and abilities; there’s no pressure to read but those who wish to are welcome to contribute aloud.

The Reader believes that great literature provides people with vital information about being human and opens up their imaginative lives.

Shared reading gives group members a language for meaningful communication, revealing what is both common and unique about their thoughts.

Reading great literature aloud also enables us to connect, coming to new levels of understanding and awareness about our own lives, and those of other people.

The Reader work to create stimulating, friendly and non-pressured environments, where shared meanings are established across social, educational and cultural boundaries.

“This is the highlight of my week. I look forward to it every Tuesday” – Shared Reading Group Member

Dates of free Taster Sessions:

Bristol Central Library, Thursday 1st September, 11am-12:30pm

Hartcliffe Library, Monday 5th September, 2pm-3:30pm

Bristol Central Library, Tuesday 6th September, 2pm-3:30pm

Bedminster Library, Thursday 15th September, 11am-12:30pm

There’s no need to book in advance, simply turn up on the day, but if you’d like to find out more information please feel free to contact either Emma Crago: / 07970 247410 or Sammy Weaver: / 07812 238532.

More Taster Sessions and Shared Reading Groups will be happening into the autumn so keep an eye out for those!

August 25, 2016 at 2:26 pm | News | No comment

Walking out of Darkness to raise awareness about suicide

August 25, 2016 at 1:41 pm

A 10-mile walk between Bath and Bristol is taking place on Saturday 10th September, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

‘Walking out of Darkness’ – organised by charity CLASP – aims to highlight how we can all make a difference through communication, education and increasing awareness around mental health and suicide prevention, and in effect reduce suicides across the region and the UK.

Suicide in the South West has risen according to recent figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) with specific increases in females during 2014.

Together with Public Health England (PHE), West of England Sport Trust, local councils and many other charities, including Rethink Mental Illness, CLASP invites people to walk in unity on World Suicide Prevention Day to raise awareness and end the stigma.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and ONS found of the 6,233 people who completed suicide in 2014, over 70% were not known to mental health services or NHS and suffered in silence, due to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Walking Out Of Darkness has support from MPs across all major parties including Minister for Mental Health Alistair Burt who said: “This is an excellent example of awareness-raising in mental health. If we are going to finally break the taboo around mental health, we need more people to openly talk about these issues. This event is helping people to do that.”

Former Minister for Care and Support, MP Norman Lamb is in full support of this cause and event. He stated: “It is an appalling statistic that suicide is the biggest killer of young men in Britain, while 9 out of 10 people with mental illness experience stigma and discrimination. Walking out of Darkness is a fantastic way of bringing people together to increase awareness of issues around mental health and suicide prevention, and hopefully raise lots of money for charity in the process.”

Helen Yeo, Chair of the North Somerset Zero Suicide steering group, commented: “We are really pleased to be supporting the Walk out of Darkness event in Bristol and Bath this September. Sadly suicide rates are high in the local area and we feel strongly that events like this help raise awareness around the issue of mental health and suicide and work towards reducing the stigma.”

Registration for the walk is only £10 via and participants are given the chance to fundraise for any UK mental health charity they wish to support.

The 10 mile route starts in Green Park, Bath before heading along the Bath to Bristol cycle pathway and footpath along the river Avon with some majestic scenery.

There will be two refreshment and first aid points along the route and an opportunity to enjoy the event with family and friends whilst inspiring people across the UK. Information kiosks will be present at the end of the event.

Watch the Walking Out Of Darkness promotional video, here.

To register for the event, click here.

If you are concerned about mental illness or suicide, call NHS 111 or speak to your GP immediately.

Walking out of Darkness poster

August 25, 2016 at 1:41 pm | News | No comment

U-turn is made over crisis line – but there’s still a long way to go

August 23, 2016 at 8:07 am

BIMHN says that monitoring any decisions around the crisis line is paramount, after Bristol Mental Health announces a u-turn over the closure of the phone service.

We welcome the news that Bristol Mental Health (BMH) has made a u-turn over its decision to close its crisis line.

BMH’s announcement is in response to our recent article, which highlighted our concerns about the potential closure, and the public’s reaction to the proposal.

The service will now not be cut, but it will be “redesigned”, Bristol Mental Health has said.

We will be monitoring the situation very carefully and challenging any future proposals that are not in the interests of people currently accessing mental health services, or that may access them in the future.

Openness and transparency is paramount in these discussions at all times.

We will be meeting with BMH and Bristol CCG on 9th September to discuss the crisis line further, and will also announce a date for an open meeting to get wider views in due course.

We would like to thank everyone who has responded to our campaign so far, and highlighted the detrimental impact that the closure would have.

Bristol Mental Health said in their most recent statement:

Recently, an online petition has been started to campaign against the closure of Bristol Mental Health’s (BMH) crisis line. BMH and Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would like to address the concerns raised in this petition.

The purpose of the Crisis Line is to respond to those experiencing a mental health crisis and to their carers. It is crucial that those requiring this service are able to get through and speak to someone when they need to. During the review of the service it was identified that approximately 66% of calls were actually seeking information or general advice; meanwhile others who needed to talk to a mental health professional urgently were unable to get through. It is for this reason that the decision has been made to change the way this service is managed.

As part of this, we will identify options that give more appropriate responses to those ringing the line. This will include where to ring if you need general advice, if you need to know about your forthcoming appointment time, or if you are a professional needing advice. It will ensure that those in mental health crisis will be responded to more quickly than is often the case at present.

The decision to redesign this service is one which has been reached with input from service users and staff from Bristol Mental Health, as well as commissioners from Bristol CCG. It should be noted that this is not a service cut, but a service redesign.

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.

BMH remain committed to work alongside the CCG with service users and carers to achieve the best mental health and wellbeing for the people of Bristol.

For more information about this issue please contact

If anyone wants to let BIMHN know their experiences of the crisis line in the meantime, please contact Tom on To support our campaign, please sign our petition:!

If you are in need of help and support, please visit our signposting page for relevant information.

August 23, 2016 at 8:07 am | News | No comment

Bristol’s crisis line set to close

August 18, 2016 at 5:35 pm

crisis line closure

Bristol Mental Health’s (BMH) crisis line is set to close at the end of November, it has been announced.

Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN) are deeply concerned over the proposals, and are in close contact with both BMH and the Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) regarding the news.

BMH’s reason for the proposed closure, which is to take effect from 30th November 2016, is that the majority of calls being made to the service were by those “requiring advice and support rather than specialist intervention – the intended purpose of the line”.

This calls into question whether enough is being done by service providers to ensure people know how to reach the right mental health support and treatment, including access to preventative services.

We feel that there needs to be more improved signposting, with clear and easily accessible information available for people wanting to use mental health services and seek support.

We want to ensure that any changes to the crisis line are in the best interests of those currently accessing services, and those that may access Bristol’s mental health services in the the future.

We have received mixed feedback from users of the crisis line about how helpful it has been. However, it is absolutely vital that there is an easily accessible and supportive service in place for those in times of crisis.

BMH wrote in their statement: 

“Bristol Mental Health (BMH) is making some changes to its crisis line to ensure that people in crisis receive the support they need. An extensive review of the service was carried out in the early part of 2016, with participation from service users, staff and commissioners.

“The review found that the majority of calls made to the line were better answered elsewhere, or made by those requiring advice and support rather than specialist intervention – the intended purpose of the crisis line.

“Therefore a decision was made by BMH (the provider of the crisis line), Bristol CCG and service users to close the crisis line, effective 30th November 2016, and to identify other resources.

“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.

“Further information will be provided about this over the coming months. As ever, BMH will work to achieve the best mental health and wellbeing for the people of Bristol.

“For more information about the closure of the line please contact or 0117 919 5782/5606.”

Have you accessed or attempted to access the crisis line? We would like to hear about your experiences. Get in touch by emailing BIMHN Secretary, Tom Renhard at Any comments will be anonymised.

BIMHN members will also be holding a meeting to further discuss the proposed closure of the crisis line, and our next steps.

August 18, 2016 at 5:35 pm | News | 1 comment

Improving psychological services in primary care

August 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Have you experienced depression and/or anxiety, and have accessed Bristol Wellbeing Therapies (formerly LIFT) or other IAPT services?

A patient forum has been set up for people with these diagnoses to share their views about the service, and to feed back to the Psychological Therapies Health Integration Team (HIT) – a group of therapists, academics, commissioners, and other experts, working together to improve psychological therapies.

Their aim is to improve people’s engagement with courses and therapies and to improve the effectiveness of their treatments. They are also looking to develop online/phone applications to support therapists and make treatment more accessible for those who use the service.

Being a member of the forum involves:

• Attending forum meetings (held in Bristol city centre early evening) chaired by members of the HIT;
• Representing the views of the forum at some other HIT meetings;
• Opportunities to respond and comment on any written materials being produced (including testing out new online/mobile applications or proposals for research or service development);
• Undertaking activities between meetings as mutually agreed, for example; attend events organised by the HIT, participate in or workshops and be involved in other relevant activities as appropriate;
• Provide support to new public contributors/members;
• Promote aspects of the service to the public.

You do not need to have any prior experience of being in a forum or group, but you need be willing to communicate in a group.


For more information, and to apply to be a member of the forum, download the application, here.

August 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm | News | No comment

Launch event revealed for Freedom of Mind Festival

August 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Details of Freedom of Mind Festival‘s launch party have finally been unveiled – and it’s set to be quite an evening!

Bristol based bands The Rupees and The Mirrors will be just some of the local talents taking to stage at the O2 Academy in Bristol on 30th September from 6pm.


The launch event is kicking off the 11-day festival, which culminates in an all-day conference on World Mental Health on 10th October.

Proceeds from the party will be going to Off The Record Bristol – a mental health charity supporting young people.

More acts will be announced in the coming weeks.

Organisers are also inviting artists to present their work at the launch event.

Tickets are £5 each and can be booked, here.

August 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm | News | No comment

Freedom of Mind teams up with Off the Record for mental health conference

August 12, 2016 at 10:40 am

Off The Record and Freedom of Mind Festival are collaborating to bring you a mental health conference like no other…

On World Mental Health Day (October 10th), Off the Record and Freedom of Mind Festival are bringing young people and professionals together for a day of talks and workshops about improving youth mental health.

This will be a conference with a twist, which will include performances, top professionals delivering workshops, young people leading discussions, and interesting opportunities to network.

The event aims to:

  • Initiate conversation around mental health, and examine how we talk about this topic,
  • Educate on how we can look after our own mental health and that of other people,
  • Influence change that will benefit young people and mental health services in the City of Bristol, maybe and even the south west!

This all-day conference will explore young people’s emotional wellbeing and discuss the factors that cause an impact.

Bringing together young people who use mental health services and those who provide them, the event will be solution-focused with productive conversations about what needs to happen. This is a chance for young people to make their voices heard, and for professionals to ask questions and report on what is already being done.

By the end of this conference you will have:

  • Gained tools for challenging mental health stigma;
  • Learned strategies to look after your own mental health and that of others;
  • Spoken about the work that is already happening in the city to support youth mental health;
  • Had conversations with service influencers, young people and professionals about how we move forward;
  • Met other mental health campaigning groups and networks.

This event is set to be a great vehicle for change, and organisers are urging you to be a part of it.

To book ticket, click here. To join the Facebook event, click here.

*PLEASE NOTE* These tickets are for professionals, not young people. Earlybird tickets are £40 and are limited so book soon to avoid disappointment.

A special offer is available for groups of young people. Please contact for more information.

August 12, 2016 at 10:40 am | News | No comment

Perinatal mental health service gets go ahead

August 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm

BIMHN welcomes the news that a new community-based perinatal mental health service is due to be launching soon.

Charity Bluebell Care and Maternity Voices have been involved in the development of the service, which has received new funding from NHS England’s children’s transformation money.

The service aims to address the gap between lower level interventions and the more intensive work on the new mother and baby Horizons unit at Southmead Hospital.

It has been long in the planning, and is something that many people – including service users – have been asking for a number of years.

August 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm | News | No comment

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