FOLLOWING the death last week of a young Bournemouth dad with mental health problems, Dorset HealthCare wants to remind all local residents that if they are suffering a mental health crisis they can visit or call a new service, The Retreat.

Based in Hahnemann House in Bournemouth, the service provides a safe and welcoming environment for people who have self-identified a mental health crisis and want to access out-of-hours support.

"The Retreat is an alternative to the traditional approach to crisis management, in that it does not offer medication or formal therapy, but instead supports and promotes self-management," said Colin Hicks, Dorset HealthCare’s Service Director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities.

"The service is staffed by both peer specialists and mental health professionals, and has a strong focus on valuing lived experience of mental health," he said. “People do not need to call ahead, they can just turn up, and in its first four months of operation it received more than 2,600 visits. Feedback has been hugely positive, and we are planning to open a second Retreat in Dorchester next year."

Mr Hicks said Dorset HealthCare was 'fully committed to providing care and support for local people who experience mental illness, including schizophrenia'.

He said they were also introducing a number of 'ambitious service improvements' based on what service users have said they need. “During February and March 2017 we worked with Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group to co-produce the Mental Health Acute Care Pathway (MHACP) with service users and carers, plus a range of other external partners including local councils," he said.

The Retreat is one of the outcomes which include an additional 16 beds to meet mental health demand (12 at St Ann’s Hospital in Poole and four at Forston Clinic near Dorchester), enhanced support via Connection, a 24/7 crisis line, the introduction of Community Front Rooms in north and west Dorset and Purbeck to improve service access, and seven recovery beds across the county.

*The Retreat is at Hahnemann House, Hahnemann Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5JW