Saturday 10 October is World Mental Health Day where each year, people across the world unite to raise awareness of mental health and encourage people to talk.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Globally, there is 1 in every 4 people living with a mental health problem, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.

As we all know, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years yet with billions of people around the world having been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Many people have been affected physically with sadly, many lives lost. However, for the first time in recent history, there are millions of people who are experiencing mental health problems at the same time through the isolation and mental strain coronavirus has brought into our lives.

Dr David Crichton, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Doncaster CCG said: “Coronavirus has had a huge impact on everyone’s mental wellbeing from very young children who were unable to start nursery due to lockdown, through to the elderly who have had to shield and were unable to see family and friends. This year, more than ever before, progress has been made with the mental health stigmas that used to exist and the virus has focused us once again to ask ‘are you ok?’ and raise mental health in the global spotlight.”

It’s been widely reported that mental health referrals and online searches for mental health support have rocketed over the past six months. Fortunately in Doncaster, over a year ago, health bosses began commissioning new and innovative mental health services to improve accessibility across the borough and reduce demand on already stretched services.

Stephen Emmerson, Head of Strategy & Delivery at NHS Doncaster CCG said: “We have worked hard to create new mental health support services which utilise the fantastic skills of staff in local voluntary organisations and reduce the pressure on some of our more clinically based services. The benefit of integrating the voluntary sector into our pathways is that we get a whole new perspective on what it is like for people living with mental health illnesses. Often, many of the staff involved in voluntary organisations have lived experience of mental health issues themselves or have cared for someone with them. Being able to offer services which include peer support has been very successful as service users feel understood, more connected to their community and less isolated.”

Some of the new mental health services on offer in the borough include:

Safe Space provided by People Focused Group (PFG) – provides a peer to peer support service which people experiencing mental health issues can access via the Single Point of Access hub.

Impact provided by Open Minds Counselling Service - provides a response to people who have recently attempted suicide who are made known to services such as the Single Point of Access, Emergency Department and Unplanned Care Centre.

Doncaster Mind - provides support to High Intensity Users to reduce the frequent attenders inappropriately using Emergency Department services.

Stephen said: “Through co-produced and interconnected services such as these, individuals will receive support to de-escalate crises, assess personal challenges and develop plans to address those challenges making effective connections to support implementation for effective longer-term recovery. This means that in Doncaster we will have stronger, more resilient people with greater connections to local communities, we will reduce future incidence of crisis situations and reduce inappropriate demand on statutory services.” 

It’s not just the adult mental health sector which has seen new services created in the town. With me in Mind, a national NHS trailblazer project, launched earlier this year and has introduced Mental Health Support Workers into schools and colleges around the area with workers helping children and young people with their mental health.

Dr Crichton said: “We have a huge range of mental health services available for people of all ages and in these challenging times, particularly as we come into winter, I urge everyone to check in with loved ones and ask ‘are you ok?’. There is no doubt that more people than ever are experiencing mental health problems and my message is that you are not alone and there is always someone to talk to. Please take time to familiarise yourself with the help available in Doncaster and look after one another.”

You can find out more about all of the health services on offer in Doncaster by visiting