Welcome to the Dorset Mental Health Forum

The Dorset Mental Health Forum is a local peer led charity. We exist to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness by promoting wellbeing and recovery. We were established in 1992 and employ people with lived experience of mental health problems whenever possible. Our main office premises are situated in Durngate Street in the market town of Dorchester.

We believe that people with lived experience of mental health problems have a wealth of specialist knowledge and valuable expertise. We believe in the effectiveness of partnership working in the design and provision of mental health services. Everyone has an equal right to enjoy all of the opportunities that life can provide and that is why we promote the principle that hope, mental health and wellbeing are essential to all.

The Retreat in Dorchester - Temporary closure

Over the past few months it has become harder for The Retreats to offer an “in person” service across both sites because of staff shortages due to illness and workforce challenges. This situation has meant that the opening times of both Retreats have been less consistent which is impactful on visitors, so a decision has been made by Dorset Healthcare and ourselves to close the Dorchester Retreat temporarily. This is a temporary measure which has been agreed in consultation with various partners and the commissioners. Doing so will enable the other Retreat in Bournemouth to open consistently with full support in place.

The descision was made because the Bournemouth service has the highest level of demand and supports more people in crisis including those who come to the attention of Dorset Police and the Ambulance Service. Suspending the Dorchester service will enable the continued high levels of need and demand to be met consistently.

We are conscious though that this decision will have an impact of visitors to the Dorchester Retreat but want to reassure people that previously accessed the service that there are options available in the West of the county:

  • The Connection Service 24/7 Crisis telephone line (0800 652 0190)
  • Attend Anywhere is an online face to face service that is delivered by Retreat staff and accessed via the Connection service.
  • The four Community Front Rooms are available to anyone in need and are open from Thursday to Sunday evenings (3.15-10.45pm). The CFRs are operating currently in Weymouth, Bridport, Shaftsbury and Wareham.
  • The Retreat in Bournemouth
  • For many people , the Retreat became a safe social space that could be accessed in the evening and The Forum are keen to offer alternatives to people that will be impacted by the temporary closure. If you would be interested in discussing ways to stay connected to Forum peers and other Retreat visitors over this time please contact Dave Privett at The Forum on 07788 312844 to discuss opportunities.

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    The current Coronavirus situation.

    Here at the Dorset Mental Health Forum we know first-hand how challenging isolation can be and understand that lack of connection can impact our wellbeing. Many of our beneficiaries have shared their anxieties with us over the past 9 months and we are continuing to explore ways to listen and capture people’s experiences at this difficult and uncertain time.

    We have been working hard to develop new ways of delivering our projects ensuring as always that lived experience is at the heart of the work we do. We understand that now more than ever, people need to stay connected and have easy access to information and support.

    We are in regular contact with both our partners in Dorset Healthcare and with the various councils across the county and are quick to reflect any changes in guidance in the ways we are working with our beneficiaries. Please check our website for regular updates.

    Forum staff are doing all that we can to continue to work alongside people who experience mental health issues and emotional distress. We have been rapidly developing a range of resources including videos, podcasts and webinars as well as exploring opportunities for digital social interaction... We are also working collaboratively with other organisations and agencies across Dorset to explore sharing resources.

    More information about our Recovery Education Centre digital courses and online learning can be found in the REC section further down this page but we have also linked a few examples of their videos and podcasts below

    Recovery Education Centre Update

  • Click here to listen to a Recovery Education Centre podcast that focuses on looking after your wellbeing as a carer.
  • Click here to watch a video introducing our Discovery Project for young people.
  • Click here to listen to a Recovery Education Centre podcast that focuses on on compassion.
  • Information for our young peoples Discovery Project can be found here: https://www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/our-services-hospitals/mental-health/discovery-project

    You can follow developments and news from these projects on social media using :

  • Twitter: @recoverydorset
  • Instagram: @dorsetrecoveryeducation
  • Facebook: @dorsetrecoveryeducation
  • Our Advocacy service is still open and can be reached via the telephone or email advocacy@dorsetmentalhealthforum.org.uk and if you require an appointment, we also have the ability to book video meetings via Microsoft TEAMS. The advocacy service have been developing resources and information and a list of local services you may need to contact can be downloaded here

    Signposting during Covid directory

    Our sports, leisure and social programme is continuing to offer a range of ways to connect including socially distant 1-1 activities as well as online groups including Xbox multiplayer gaming sessions, a weekly book club and art and chat sessions via our Facebook page. We are also keen to hear from you if you have suggestions for new virtual/online activities that you'd like to take part in. Click here to go to the Sports and Social page of our site for more details.

    We also know from feedback that digital groups don’t work for everyone, if you would like to talk through ways to access the programme, please call or email Dave or Con on 01305 257172 or at sportsandsocial@dorsetmentalhealthforum.org.uk

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    The EquallyWell UK guide to Covid 19 vaccinations and severe mental illness.

    CV19 Vaccination Guide

    Equally Well is an initiative from New Zealand which seeks to promote and support collaborative action to improve physical health among people with a mental illness. It is hosted in the UK by Centre for Mental Health in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness, the Chair of the Clinical Group and Chair of the Expert by Experience group along with their members.

    They have produced a guide that offers key information for people with severe mental illness and carers on -

  • The vaccine roll-out programme.
  • Who is eligible to receive it.
  • What to expect on the day of your vaccine.
  • Reasonable adjustments you can ask for.
  • After the vaccine.
  • Signposting to further information.
  • To access the guide please double click on the image above and it will open in a new browser window.

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    Government Mental Health Act Review

    Reforming MH Act summary

    In 2018 the government commisioned an independent review into the Mental Health Act, this review set out what needs to change in both law and practice in order to deliver a modern mental health service that respects the patient's voice and empowers individuals to shape their own care and treatment. It also made recommendations on how to address the disparities in how the act affects people from black, Asian and minority ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds

    Two years on (and no doubt delayed by the current pandemic), the government has published its White Paper. This proposal outlines their plans for updating and changing the Act, specifically around when you can be detained and receive mental health treatment without consent.

    The White Paper Summary can be downloaded by clicking the picture above.

    The full White Paper is a large file and is more easily accessed via the Governments web link which can be accessed by clicking here

    We would also encourage anybody who has been affected by the Mental Health Act to provide feedback on the Governments plans by completing an on line survey which can be accessed by clicking here

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    Holly Yates Artwork

    We are very lucky to have Holly involved with us at the Forum , she is one of our governance partners but also manages to find the time to fullfill her role as a local GP and create some fantastic art in whatever spare time she manages to find !

    One of Holly's latest pieces is now on display in the window of Outpost in Fortuneswell, it is made up of empty pill blisters each one representing a day sgned off work while unwell with depression.

    Our small photos really don't do the piece justice so if you are anywhere near Fortuneswell, please take a look as it's very powerful stuff.

    Holly artwork Holly artwork

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    Our Dorset introduce a health app online library

    Dorset Healthcare and the local Dorset Councils have recently developed a library of mobile phone and tablet friendly apps that can help people manage their health and care proactively. Not all health apps online are properly regulated or recommended for use but all of the apps chosen for the library have been reviewed by ORCHA (Organised Review of Care and Health Apps) meaning they are safe to download from and online safety and clinical health perspective.

    Easy access to these resources has been set up to help people in Dorset -

    - Have better ownership in their health and care (both with chronic conditions or general health and wellbeing).

    - To pro actively engage in their care.

    - To have that engagement in a safe way.

    To access the app library please click here - you will see that there some apps with a purple badge alongside them – these are the resources that are relevant to the current COVID-19 situation.

    There are further resources available including ways to access online consultations on the Our Dorset site by clicking here

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    NHS responders

    NHS Volunteering

    NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. To do this they need an 'army' of volunteers who can support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. NHS doctors, nurses, those working in local authorities and other professionals, will be able to refer people in to NHS Volunteer Responders and be confident that they have been matched with a reliable, named volunteer.

    For more details and how to apply please click here to access the dedicated website

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    A new Forum website on the way

    Forum Logo

    We have been wanting to redesign and modernise the Forum website for some time now, to give it a fresher more intuitive feel. As you can see from the image on the right, this process also includes a rebrand along with a fresh new Forum logo!

    There is a lot of information on the current site and it's important to us that we work with you to ensure that we do not lose the content that brings you here in the first place. For that reason, as we are developing our new site, we would really welcome your feedback on our current website - what you like or dislike, what is helpful, what is not, what you would like to see on the new website and so on (content or design).

    Your feedback would be very much appreciated..... please contact us here. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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    The Recovery Education Centre Prospectus

    REC ProspectusEveryone has a right to wellbeing, to feeling positive about today and feeling hopeful for tomorrow. At times life can feel uncontrollable, and empty of opportunity, and most of us experience this at some point. At the Recovery Education Centre (REC), you will find courses designed and delivered in partnership with Dorset Healthcare that help to empower you to find hope, to see and embrace opportunity through building skills and gain control by putting these skills into practice in your life.

    REC update

    Dorset Healthcare have updated their Recovery Education Centre webpage on the Dorset HealthCare site with some new services appropriate for the current coronavrus situation. For more details please click here for the updated website.

    Updates include a brand new section ‘Learn Online’ (which you can access directly by clicking here) which is where you will find some of our materials that we have been developing during the period of time that we are unable to offer face to face REC courses. Topics include: compassion, and supporting carers or family members who are caring for someone with a mental health diagnosis.

    The REC are also now able to offer Enrolment appointments for new students, so if you would like to enrol with us and have some guidance around accessing our materials do contact the team.

    Please download the

    REC Prospectus .

    REC additional course info .

    Contact the Recovery Education Centre

    By Post:
    Recovery Education Centre
    Hahnemann House
    Hahnemann Road
    BH2 5JW

    Tel: 01202 584478
    Mobile: 07787 836708
    Email the REC

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    The launch of Access Mental Health in Dorset

    Access Mental Health

    On October 10th this year, coinciding with World Mental Health Day, Dorset HealthCare announced a new initiative which is a fresh approach to supporting people who are struggling to cope, heading towards a breakdown or feeling suicidal.

    Based on feedback from local people, Access Mental Health allows people to define their own crisis and seek help without waiting for a referral from their GP meaning that Dorset is now one of the few areas in the country where you can access round-the-clock help and advice over the phone and face-to-face support in the evenings.

    Access Mental Health offers a range of services including -

  • Connection – a 24/7 telephone helpline (0300 1235440), which can provide direct help or signpost you to a range of other services.
  • The Retreat – a drop-in support service in Bournemouth and Dorchester, open midday to 4pm and 5pm-11:30pm every day. Run in partnership with the Dorset Mental Health Forum, it provides a safe space where you can talk through your problems with mental health workers or peer specialists.
  • Community Front Rooms – drop-in support services in Bridport and Shaftesbury (with a further one in Wareham coming soon), open 3.15-10.45pm, Thursday-Sunday. They are run by local charities The Burrough Harmony Centre (Bridport) and Hope (Shaftesbury), contracted by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association, and are also staffed by mental health professionals and peer support workers.
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    Suicide Prevention Day

    Thursday 10th September 2020 was World Suicide Prevention Day and aimed to raise awareness and educate people on the effects mental illness can have on people worldwide.

    More than 800,000 people take their lives each year across the world. In the UK more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year - an average of 18 a day.

    Thankfully the issue is now being spoken about, alongside other areas of mental health it is very much in focus. Connecting with others and letting people know that it's ok to talk is the message for this year's campaign.

    If you are thinking about suicide or know someone who is but you don't know who to speak to please call us here at the Forum and we will be able to put you in touch with someone who can help, there are people who care and are ready to help right now.

    The Samaritans do fantastic work here in the UK and around the world and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week offering a safe place for you to talk through any problems you may be having. Their telephone service is free and available on 116 123 .

    There are also other services and organisations that will be able to help - we have added some useful links below -

    • Grassroots are a charity who work solely around suicide prevention in the UK and their website is full of useful resources. Please click here for more information.
    • HOPELineUK is a national confidential support service for any young people (under 35) at risk of suicide, or anyone worried about a young person at risk of suicide. The helpline is open 10am-10pm Monday-Friday, Weekends 2pm-10pm, and Bank Holidays 2pm-5pm.Tel: 0800 068 41 41 Calls are free from all providers and do not appear on bills.
    • CALM Helpline -The Campaign Against Living Miserably offers confidential, anonymous and free support, information and signposting to men anywhere in the UK through their helpline. Monday-Friday from 1pm-11pm every day, calls free from landlines and most mobiles.Tel: 0800 58 58 58
    • The Retreat crisis service , a partnership project designed and delivered by Dorset Healthcare and The Dorset Mental Health Forum (details below)

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    The Retreat

    The Retreat

    The Retreat is a safe and welcoming environment for anyone over 18 years of age, based in Dorset and who have self-identified their crisis and want to access support. It is an alternative to the traditional approach to crisis management as being solely assessed and defined by clinicians.

    The Retreat will not offer medication or formal therapy but will instead support and promote self-management with a strong focus on on valuing lived experience and peer support.

    The service is being delivered in partnership between Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust and Dorset Mental Health Forum and is staffed by both peer specialist and mental health professionals.

    The Retreat is open every day of the year between 4:30pm to midnight and is based at two sites - Hahnemann House, Hahnemann Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5JW and at 30 Maiden Castle Road, Dorchester, DT1 2ER

    For more details please click here to access the dedicated Retreat website.

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    Suicide Prevention Plan

    Suicide Prevention is high on the agenda and a key part of the Mental Health Five Year Forward View.

    Suicide has a profound effect on families, friends and local communities and across Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole an average of 70 people die by suicide and so Dorset CCG and partners are pleased to introduce the Suicide Prevention Plan.

    The Suicide Prevention Plan is a high level plan with key themes taken from the National Suicide Strategy. Each organisation signed up to this plan will develop their own Suicide Prevention Plan targeting their areas of influence. Each organisation will then report progress through the Crisis Care Concordat working Group. It will be reported up through the CCG’s Integrated Community Primary Care Service (ICPCS) Board and to the Health and Wellbeing Boards. Please note the plan seen here is a working draft that will be finalised by 30 April 2018.

    Work on this plan will support the national intention to reduce the number of suicides and importantly will reduce the number of deaths by suicide in Dorset. Across Dorset there is strong commitment to delivering this plan and delivering it in partnership. Once published and finalised the partnerships will be strengthened and formalised to ensure that the reach of the plan is as wide as possible.

    Please click the link below to view or to download the local Dorset action plan produced by Dorset CCG

    Suicide Prevention Plan.


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    Dorset Mental Health Forum Information Leaflet

    Forum Information LeafletIf you or anyone you know has an interest in helping to shape services you can get involved by joining the Forum. Download the Forum Information Leaflet to find out more about what we do and how you can be a part of it.

    It explains who we are and the many pieces of work and projects that we undertake, including:

    • Dorset Wellbeing and Recovery Partnership (WaRP)
    • Dorset Recovery Education Centre (REC)
    • The Retreat
    • Forum Employment Service/Dorset Work Matters (WaRP)
    • Dorset Mental Health Advocacy
    • Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
    • Sports, Leisure and Social Programme

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