A lounge providing a listening ear for islanders suffering problems with their mental health will open before Christmas to ensure they get help at an early stage, rather than waiting months to talk to someone.
Senator Steve Pallett is hoping to bring forward full proposals for the “listening lounge” within the coming weeks.
The Assistant Minister for Mental Health Services made the announcement during this Tuesday's States Assembly meeting. During the sitting, he explained that he is working “day by day” with the Health Department to improve access to services “so that people don’t get into a situation they need acute services.”
Pictured: Senator Steve Pallett was appointed Assistant Minister for Mental Health Services in June.
“Everybody is different, every individual needs a service and care that suits them,” he added. “Unfortunately, there are levels of care that we don’t provide in the island currently and I think it leads to unnecessary worry and unnecessary worsening of conditions that could be dealt with at an early stage.”
Senator Pallett said the listening lounge was part of new proposals coming through to remediate the situation. He said it would give people the opportunity “to access services when they need them, at the time they need them.”
“I find it distressing when I hear people have to wait months to see somebody to talk about their mental health or an issue in their life,” he said. “That is unacceptable, I know that is not acceptable but putting it right overnight is difficult.”
Pictured: The first listening lounge will be created in town. (Government of Jersey/Twitter)
Speaking to Express, Senator Pallett confirmed he is pushing for the listening lounge - something that had been discussed by the previous Health Minister, but never came to fruition - to be opened “sooner rather than later.”
He described the services it will provide as “low level intervention”, adding that it will be open to people that have “a more immediate need to talk to someone.”
“There are all sorts of issues, work, family and others, that can put your mental health stress. The listening lounge will provide support to islanders with those issues.”
The first listening lounge will be established in town as a pilot and Senator Pallett has stressed that it will be important for it be easy to access and find.
“It’s important to find the right site,” he said. “It needs to be somewhere people can go to knowing they can talk to someone and they will have privacy in regards to that and where they are confident enough they can talk to someone.”
Pictured: 'Peer-led intervention' will be offered at the lounge.
The Mental Health Services are partnering up with local charities such as Mind Jersey, Jersey Recovery College and the Samaritans to create the lounge. Islanders who come to lounge will be signposted to the right partner, with not all solutions being of a medical or clinical nature, Senator Pallett said.
“It will be about dealing with the issue as it arises so that is does not build into something more serious. Clearly, if they have a more serious condition, they can be signposted to the right people,” he added.
‘Peer-led intervention’ will be a big part of the offering at the lounge and Senator Pallet has assured that people with experience of the mental health services should be involved in producing new services and improving the support they provide.
The Assistant Minister is hopeful a proposal will be published in the next weeks and wishes to see listening lounge cropping up around the island, if the pilot scheme is successful.
“One of the issues is Jersey Talking Therapies is extremely popular and is over capacity at the moment. People have to wait longer than what I think is acceptable, Senator Pallett said. “We need to get [the listening lounge] off the ground. You can talk about things for too long for me it’s about doing things now.”
The lounge is not the only first step mental health intervention currently being worked on by the government - it is also in the process of launching a 'mental health first aider network'.
So far, 16 first aiders have been nominated at Customer and Local Services, which is based at La Motte Street, and will start their training this autumn.
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