New mental health approach for Somerset

Second Step has joined a new alliance of voluntary sector organisations to develop a bold new mental health support service for people in Somerset.

The new Somerset Mental Health Alliance says its community-based approach will mean that people with mental health problems get the right support at the right time. It aims to:

  • reducing waiting times for clinical services
  • improve the experiences of people going through a mental health crisis
  • support people to access housing, jobs or volunteering opportunities
  • help people take part in community activities and physical exercise.

The Alliance, a partnership of 10 organisations, will work to create a ‘no wrong door’ approach, meaning that a person’s mental health support needs can be responded to regardless of where they come into contact with services, so that the system is easier to navigate and more efficient.

Aileen Edwards, Second Step’s Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to be a part of this unique partnership approach which represents an innovative and significant change to mental health care in Somerset”.

Katherine Nolan, Chief Executive, Spark Somerset, said: “This is an exciting new approach – where NHS services and local voluntary organisations will be working in partnership to ensure that residents of Somerset get the support they need, when they need it.”

Will Higham, Associate Director of Programme Innovation at Rethink Mental Illness said: “The creation of this Alliance is recognition that effective mental health care should be linked to support in the community. It’s not just about what your GP can do; a lack of good housing, steady work, and stable finances can all have serious effects on your mental health, so it’s only right that we start to consider all of a person’s needs when they need treatment”.

Andrew Keefe, Deputy Director of Mental Health and Learning Disability Commissioning, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are determined to address the previously unmet needs of people requiring support for their mental health and this supports the NHS Long Term Plan. We’re committed to realising the vision that people with mental health needs receive the same levels of support as those who have physical health needs, while also addressing the stigma that is sadly still all too often associated with mental health.”

NHS England announced last year that Somerset was going to will be one of the areas to pilot the new Community Mental Health Framework, the only county in the South West. The contract, which starts in January 2020 will run for two years.

About the Alliance

Age UK Somerset is the largest charity in Somerset dedicated to supporting older people. Through advice and practical support Age UK Somerset focuses on what matters to older people and what would make their later years better.
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The Balsam Centre is a vibrant community hub housing a range of health, social, educational and cultural activities and services. As an independent, local charity it has an established reputation for delivering innovative, holistic health and wellbeing services, with a focus on improving mental and physical health. Its activities provide a catalyst for change, reducing health and social inequalities and allowing people of all ages to gain a sense of companionship and belonging.
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Chard Watch CIC support adults who are wanting to connect through valuable peer support. Having valuable peer friendships leads to exciting possibilities whereby people find hope and reach their true potential. Watch has their weekly hub in Chard plus delivers peer workshops across the whole of Somerset.
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Citizens Advice services in Somerset are independent advice charities providing free, confidential and impartial information, support and advice for anyone who needs it. Our vision is to deliver excellence in prevention and advice services, helping clients prepare for and manage key life events and changes. Our services benefit the whole community and our goal is to reduce poverty, disadvantage and discrimination, improving independence, prosperity and wellbeing.
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Mind in Somerset provides 47 free mental health services across Somerset to 9,400 local people each year. With offices in Yeovil, Bridgwater and Taunton, they are open from 9am to 10.30pm on weekdays and 8pm to 10.30pm at weekends. Services include a drop-in, face-to-face services, peer support groups, training and specialist support for those who hear voices, are bereaved by suicide or who are navigating the criminal justice system. Their confidential Mindline service operates every evening from 8pm to 11pm: 01823 276892. Find out more at

Rethink Mental Illness is a leading charity provider of mental health services in England. We support tens of thousands of people through our groups, services and advice and information. And we train employees, employers and members of the public on how best to support someone affected by mental illness. All of this work guides our campaigning for the rights of people with mental illness and their carers.
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Second Step is a leading mental health charity in the South West offering housing, support and hope. We specialise in working with people with complex needs.
Find out more at @wearesecondstep

Somewhere House Somerset’s mission is to provide a therapeutic service for anyone who chooses to access support in the local community. We aim to reach individuals who most need help through a variety of services including low cost counselling, educational workshops and community projects with a professional and flexible approach.
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Spark Somerset is the local infrastructure charity, supporting the voluntary sector. Our aim is to inspire strong, healthy and sustainable communities through voluntary and community action. We provide information, advice, training and support to charities and community groups. We are also a registered DBS provider and run the Volunteer Service, inspiring people to make a difference in their communities.
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SWEDA (Somerset & Wessex Eating Disorders Association) is a regional charity supporting those affected by eating disorders across Somerset. Set up in 1992 by a group of sufferers and carers, SWEDA has provided a range of services since then, for people struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and compulsive overeating. Our services also give support to family members and friends engaged in the difficult task of supporting someone close to them.
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