People who need urgent mental health support are being offered more help over the phone during the coronavirus outbreak.

The district helpline for people experiencing emotional distress, First Response, is still operating 24 hours a day and charities have moved safer space crisis services to telephone support.

Government restrictions mean face-to-face contact is limited across health sectors. But mental health teams are still operating across the district and the charities Mind in Bradford, The Cellar Trust, Creative Support and Bradford Youth Service already have trained staff working on phone lines.

A spokesperson for the Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust said people who needed urgent mental health support should call First Response on 01274 221181 in the first instance. Examples included having thoughts about life not being worth living, feeling out of control or unable to cope, self-harming and hearing voices.

“We have lots of experienced telecoaches ready to take calls and assess people’s needs,” they said. “The most important step is to make the call so we can help anyone in distress at this difficult time and help keep them safe. We will be able to refer people to different services across the district and prevent people being admitted to hospital.”

Safer space services offer a calm and supportive environment for people in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven who are experiencing emotional distress and are often an alternative to hospital admission. 16s and over are referred to Haven at The Cellar Trust between 10am and 6pm and The Sanctuary, run by Mind in Bradford, between 6pm and 1am. There is a separate safer space for children, young people and parents; the service will be taking referrals and offering phone support 9am through to 7am (22 hours) Monday to Friday and 7pm to 7am (12 hours) on weekends.

All have been moved to phone support and opening hours remain the same. Referrals can be made through First Response and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

A spokesperson for the charities said staff were offering the same level of support while minimising the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

They added: “This is a really difficult and stressful time for lots of people, but we want them to know that we are working together to ensure that we are ready to listen and support them. All our staff have been trained to help people in crisis situations and they are incredibly supportive and understanding.”

For non-urgent mental health support over the phone, call Mind in Bradford’s Guide-Line, available 7 days a week, on 01274 594594 between 12pm-9pm.

For non-urgent online support MyWellbeing College, a free NHS service, offers learning and support for people that might be feeling low, unable to sleep, anxious or stressed through a range of online courses, links to websites and resources. The service is open to anyone over the age of 16 who is registered with a GP in Bradford, Wharfedale, Airedale or Craven. People don’t have to go through their GP to enrol on a course, they can register online at www.bmywellbeingcollege.nhs.uk

Kooth www.kooth.com is a web based confidential support service available to young people that provides a safe and secure means of accessing mental health and wellbeing support. Kooth offers young people the opportunity to have a text-based conversation with a qualified counsellor. Counsellors are available from 12pm to 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 10pm at weekends, every day of the year.

Information about local wellbeing services can also be found at www.healthyminds.services.

For more information on First Response, visit https://www.bdct.nhs.uk/services/first-response/.