Paisley Daily Express
People in crisis can get support at specialist lifeline unit
Temporary facility set up at the start of pandemic is to be made permanent
Renfrewshire people suffering a mental health crisis will continue to receive emergency support at a specialist unit in Glasgow.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has confirmed that the temporary initiative which saw those in crisis taken to the Leverndale Hospital, in Crookston, is to become permanent.
The lifeline unit was established in March last year when health chiefs recognised pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic would see more people turn up at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in crisis.
They decided to redirect these people from the busy accident and emergency department of the Paisley hospital to the new mental health assessment unit at Leverndale.
The scheme has been so successful it has been decided that all those who present at A&E, to the police or to paramedics with mental health problems will be transferred to the unit for specialist mental health assessment.
Amy MacLean, the nurse team lead at the unit at Leverndale, says the impact of the unit has been huge.
She said: “These are unprecedented times. “People have not been seeing their families, not been getting out. There’s been a fear of catching covid and, for some, a fear of going out.
“All of that on top of the massive shifts that people have faced, from furlough, to losing jobs or relationship breakdowns – for some that can lead to a mental health crisis and that’s where we come in.”
The unit is bright and provides a safe space for those who need to be assessed.
It aims to be a much more welcoming space than the often clinical and stressful setting of a hospital emergency departments.
Amy added: “So much of what we do is about reassurance that people are not on their own.
“We’re here for them, nothing will surprise us and we never judge.
“We create a safe space and we’re here for the people we work with.”
Many of the people assessed will return home on the night they have been seen, with an appointment with a mental health specialist the following day and with a care plan they have created in partnership with the staff who are treating them.
The Leverndale unit is accepting referrals from A& E, Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24, NHS 24 Mental Health Hub and GP Out of Hours services.
And, from the beginning of June, GPs in Renfrewshire and across the NHSGGC area will be able to refer patients directly to the unit at Leverndale and a second at Stobhill Hospital.
Amy believes there is likely to be further mental ill-health fall-out from covid, but the team will be there, 24/7, 365 days a year to help pick up the pieces.
“If you’re struggling, reach out,” she said. “You’re not alone. Things may be difficult right now, but it will get better and there is appropriate support for you which is always available.
“Reach out and we will help you get you through it.”
If you require support, the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 111.
You can also call the Samaritans on 116 123. The Samaritans also provide information on the effects of coronavirus on mental health.
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