People in the West Midlands experiencing mental health problems are being urged to call an NHS helpline so that they can receive the rapid care that they need without having to go to hospital for emergency care.

Mental health phone lines run by the NHS have answered around 120,000 calls this year in the West Midlands.

The dedicated 24/7 NHS mental health crisis helplines were fast-tracked to open last year. Most of the callers are able to receive treatment over the phone or can be referred to a face-to-face assessment with fewer than 2% of the calls nationally resulting in an A&E attendance or a blue light response from ambulance or police.

Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can call their local helpline and friends and family members can call on behalf of someone they’re worried about. Parents can call for their children, and support is available for all ages. The lines are also open to professionals such as police and paramedics who may come across people experiencing mental ill health.

David Stocks is a Suicide Prevention Community Development Worker at the Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust who has himself been affected by mental illness. “I was admitted to Dorothy Pattison Hospital in Walsall about 10 years ago for my own safety,” said David.

“I was suicidal and felt the world was better off without me. I just wanted to end the pain inside. When I was in hospital, I met with other service users who were going through similar things to me. Having people who I could relate to and realising I was not alone in feeling the way I did really helped.

“I had so much help on my recovery journey,” adds David. “Some of the most vital help was from my peers, who shared the same experience as me, but also believed in me. I also had help from Citizens Advice, who tackled some of the financial issues that were affecting my mental health.”

Now, David is in the job he values most as a Suicide Prevention Community Development Worker. “I have the opportunity to use my lived experience to help connect with people and provide hope to those who may be feeling suicidal,” says David.

His advice for others who are struggling with their mental health is to “know that you are not alone and that many people struggle with theirs too. Despite the pain you may be going through, know that with help and support you will come through it.”

Giles Tinsley, Programme Director for Mental Health at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said:

“We know that many more people have experienced mental health crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and so it’s important that people are able to access the help they need, when they need it.

“The crisis helplines enable people, or their friends and family, to talk to a mental health professional pretty much immediately, and so I encourage anyone who is struggling to make use of the service.”

The lines are staffed by mental health professionals who can refer people to local urgent, acute and routine mental health services. This may include phone and video consultations, as well as urgent face-to-face assessments where necessary.

The helplines have been set up by the six mental health trusts across the West Midlands offering freephone 0800/0808 numbers. Details of which local helpline to call can be found on an easy to use service finder on the NHS website – simply by typing in a postcode or hometown in the same way you would search for a local GP or pharmacist. For information on how to get urgent mental health assistance visit

The crisis lines have been rolled out four years earlier than planned, having originally been scheduled to go live by 2023/24 under the NHS Long Term Plan, but were fast-tracked to ensure support could be provided during the pandemic.

This is another example of how the NHS has stepped up to ensure that everyone who needs urgent care can continue to receive it in the safest way possible.

The NHS ambition for these lines is to ensure that by 2024 they are connected to NHS 111. This will mean there is one easy to remember national three-digit number that anyone can dial to access specialist mental health support from the health service.