13th to 19th May was Mental Health Awareness Week.
Mental health, we all have it. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes, unfortunately, it’s not so good. It’s certainly a buzzword at the moment thanks to more people speaking openly about it, including celebrities and royals. I think we can all agree, whether you struggle with yours or not, that more awareness and more support can only be a good thing.
If you Google ‘Medway Mental Health Awareness 2019’, you get an old result from 2014 and pretty generic, outdated mental health information. It seems Medway isn’t doing too much this year in terms of events, which is both unsurprising but also sad, considering Medway has some of the highest mental health need in Kent.
Mental health awareness is vital to reduce stigma, get people talking and hopefully raise its profile enough to get the precious government funding (I know, don’t hold your breath…) services desperately need. When this week comes around every year, you often hear people quite rightly asking ‘well this awareness stuff is great and all, but how do we actually get help?’
So where can you go in Medway if you need help with your mental health? We hear that families are often quite confused about where they go for support and what’s available. With Medway Council running differently to Kent County Council, this makes the picture even more blurred.
Luckily, I’m here to help you navigate what’s on offer for Medway specific services, and who deals with what level of need.
If you’re an adult:
Medway Talking Therapies supplied by Insight Healthcare are a great first port of call for non-urgent mental health needs. They can help with a wide range of mental health difficulties including low mood, anxiety, stress, bereavement and family and relationship problems, amongst many more. They offer 1:1 face to face sessions or if that’s not your thing, they also offer telephone and online sessions with a real live human therapist. The good news is, it’s completely free, you can self refer and the waiting lists are very short so you can get started almost straight away. If you went to your GP, these are the people they’d be referring you to unless you were in urgent need of more intense support.
You can call them on 0300 029 3000, which is a local rate number.
You can email them: email@example.com
Alternatively, you can pop to your GP and ask for a referral.
Adult Community Mental Health Services are provided by Kent & Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust. They are located at Canada House in Gillingham. This is where you can go if your mental health needs are moderate to severe. This referral will need to be made by your GP or other health professional where it will then be triaged by the community mental health team. If you meet criteria, then you will be accepted for further assessment. If not, or your needs could be better met by another service, they will signpost you.
You can call them on 01634 583020.
If you’re a child:
Medway Young People’s Wellbeing Service (also known as CAMHS) is run by North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT). They are also based in Gillingham. This is your port of call if early interventions such as school counselling, Early Help etc have not worked and further support is required. You can self-refer or be referred by your GP or other health, social or education professional. The referral will be triaged and if suitable will be accepted for assessment or signposted to a more suitable service.
You can call them on 0300 300 1981.
Alternatively, you can ask your health, educational or social care professional to make a referral.
Early Help provided by Medway Council. It is a first port of call for a range of social needs such as financial difficulties, school non-attendance, domestic violence, anti-social behaviour etc but they also offer early intervention for emotional wellbeing. Early Help work with the whole family to help resolve difficulties and make a plan with you to move forward.
Depending on where in Medway you live, you can contact your nearest hub:
Chatham All Saints Children and Family Hub: 01634 338 833
Gillingham Children and Family Hub: 01634 338 877
Strood Children and Family Hub: 01634 335 533
Wayfield Children and Family Hub: 01634 337 733
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s also worth checking with school or college to see if they have any mental health support in terms of counselling or different therapies that can support a child in the first instance.
Outside of these services for adults and children there are also the following services and charities. This list is not exclusive but are some of the more well known services in the area:
North Kent Mind (Medway branch based in Chatham)
Website / 01322 291380
Metro (LGBTQ+ counselling)
Although based in London, they can direct you to services in Medway.
Mental Health Matters (Kent & Medway)
Website / 0800 107 0160
All of the services mentioned are a mixture of 24 hour and Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. However none of them are an emergency service and sadly, sometimes our mental health becomes urgent and life threatening. Therefore the next bit, I’m going to say in bold and loudly…
IN AN EMERGENCY WHERE YOU FEEL YOU CANNOT KEEP YOURSELF OR YOUR CHILD SAFE, PLEASE CALL 999 OR GO TO A&E WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE CRISIS TEAM. A MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY IS STILL A HEALTH EMERGENCY. YOU ARE IMPORTANT, YOU ARE NOT WASTING ANYONE’S TIME AND THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANYBODY AT ANY TIME. YOU MATTER.
So hopefully, now you’ll have a better idea of what’s available in Medway and how you can access it because, let’s face it, asking for help is the first step of many and it makes that a lot easier to do if you know where you’re going.
Lauren Heritage is a mental health professional born and raised in Medway. She wants Medway to be the best it can be and is growing more exasperated by the day with politics. She likes to travel, enjoys good food, is a scuba diver, and a wannabe pilot.