BLACK County health leaders have urged people to reach out if they are in need of help and support this World Mental Health Day and every day.

World Mental Health Day, which takes place today (Sunday October 10), aims to raise more awareness of mental health conditions and signpost people to services available should they need support.

Anyone who feels as though they are struggling to cope is encouraged to call the Black Country 24/7 helpline.

Launched last year by the Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the helpline is now run by Rethink Mental Illness and is open to residents of all ages across the Black Country, providing access to urgent mental health, learning disability and autism support.

No referral by a GP or other health professional is required, help will be offered to anyone who needs it.

To speak to a qualified mental health professional, call freephone 0800 008 6516 or text 07860 025 6516.

Professor Dean Howells, chief nursing officer for Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Life has been especially challenging over the last 18 months, so it’s more important than ever that we look after our own mental health and wellbeing.

“This World Mental Health Day, we would like to remind everyone in our local communities that services are here for you – support is available, so please reach out.

“There are 24/7 services available – so even if it’s just a conversation, please take that first step when you feel you might need some support and there will always be someone to listen."

Face to face support is also available via Sanctuary Hubs in each of the Black Country boroughs.

They are open Monday to Friday, 6pm to 11pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 12pm to 11pm, and can be found here:

• Dudley Sanctuary Hub, DY1 Community Centre, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1SA

• Sandwell Sanctuary Hub, Hope Place, 321 High Street, West Bromwich, B70 8LU

• Walsall Sanctuary Hub, 1 Queen’s Parade, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 2EX

• Wolverhampton Sanctuary Hub, Castle House, Wheeler’s Fold, Wolverhampton, WV1 1HN

Dr Masood Ahmed, chief medical officer for the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Just like physical health, mental health issues can affect everyone.

"We all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Those feelings may pass, but sometimes they develop into a more serious problem where it starts to affect day-to-day life, which is when it may be time to seek help.

“Please don’t suffer in silence if you are feeling overwhelmed or need someone to talk to. There are support services available, you are not alone.”

Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has also set up a Black Country and West Birmingham Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub which provides an entry point for mental health talking therapies and support for colleagues across the Black Country and West Birmingham Integrated Care System.

Qualified mental health professionals offer priority pathways to confidential telephone, video, or face-to-face support, provided by local mental health teams and support services close to home.

Health and social care staff can self-refer by visiting the BCHFT website, emailing or calling 0121 803 1444.