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A first in Wales – team established to support people in a mental health crisis over the Christmas period.

For most people, Christmas is a joyful time which is spent in the company of friends and loved ones, but for people with mental health problems and other vulnerable adults it can be a difficult and lonely time.

Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board has joined forces with North Wales Police and the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust to improve the support given to people experiencing a mental health crisis in the Wrexham area over the busy festive season.

A dedicated multi-agency team has been established which is the first of its kind in Wales and will see a Mental Health/Learning Disability Nurse and Paramedic accompany a Police Officer to incidents where people may need immediate mental health support.

The team will be operating in the county during periods of peak demand over the festive season, including ‘Festive Friday’, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. (15th, 22nd, 23rd, 26th and 31st of December).

The aim of the Multi-Agency Response Team is to ensure that adults who are vulnerable through mental health, learning disabilities, substance misuse, Autism, Dementia and memory problems receive appropriate support at the right time and in the right place during a crisis.

The team will work together with vulnerable individuals, their family, friends, local authorities and colleagues in the third sector, to support people through their crisis.

It is anticipated that their efforts will reduce the number of individuals with mental health needs who are detained by the police and ensure that only those who require hospital care come to the local Emergency Department or Adult Mental Health Unit over the busy festive season.

Fleur Evans, BCUHB’s Clinical Network Manager for Mental Health & Learning Disability Services in North East Wales, said: “One of our key priorities is to continue to work closely with our partners on local initiatives to support vulnerable people in our community who are in crisis. This initiative is a creative approach to effective multi-disciplinary team working which will help us provide appropriate responses to people in crisis over the Christmas period. We will review the success of this initiative to capture the learning for similar projects in the future.”

Wayne Davies, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Locality Manager for Wrexham and Flintshire, said: “We’re looking forward to working closely with our police and health board colleagues to make sure some of the most vulnerable community members in Wrexham receive the best care for their needs.

“This pilot scheme will not only provide improved outcomes for patients with acute mental health needs, but also keep our NHS and emergency services available to help others during the busy festive period.”

Dave Jolly, Chief Inspector for Wrexham added: “This initiative supports our campaign of “Drink Less, Enjoy More” and we will support our partners to enable people to stay safe during these festivities. We would also remind the public that the Alcohol Treatment Centre will also be open on these key dates as well as street pastors who will provide assistance to anyone in crisis.”

If you need help or want to talk to someone, you can contact the 24-hour confidential Community Advice and Listening Line for Wales on 0800 123737 or text: “help” to 81066. For more information, visit the website www.callhelpline.org.uk

Top Pic: Sgt Laura Salisbury-Jones (North Wales Police) BCUHB Nurse Anna Page and Paramedic Glyn Thomas.

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